Ani Cordero is a Puerto Rican singer/composer and activist living in NYC. She has toured as the drummer for the legendary Os Mutantes, and was a founding member of the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera. In the early 2000s, Ani led her own bilingual art rock band, Cordero who released such Feminist anthems such as “Vamos Nenas,” and “Matadora,” on Chicago’s beloved Bloodshot Records and Amy Ray’s (Indigo Girls>) label, Daemon Records.
n 2014, Ani released an album entitled Recordar (Remember), which re-imagined songs by influential Latin American songwriters of the turbulent “Nueva Cancion” era, including Victor Jara, Violeta Parra, Chavela Vargas, and Atahualpa Yupanqui. Her critically-acclaimed album received accolades from NPR’s All Things Considered, Alt-Latino, and Soundcheck, as well as, Billboard, USA Today, PRI The World, Brooklyn Vegan, BUST, Remezcla, and more.
Following the success of Recordar, Ani released an album of her own political protest and love songs called Querido Mundo (Dear World). The album is Ani’s love letter to a complicated world and addresses several themes including immigration, Black Lives Matter, Feminism, and government corruption. The songs feature heavy percussion, sing-along choruses and strong lyrics that aim to inspire political resistance and support for social justice.
In September 2019, Ani will release her third solo album El Machete inspired in large part by the new reality facing Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria.
Ani is also co-founder of Puerto Rico Independent Musicians and Artists (PRIMA) which supports the music community in Puerto Rico.
(Photo Credit: Bek Andersen)
One day, I was surprised to find myself in a rage. I’m not quick to anger, but there was this person who was clearly lying to my face and actively underestimating me. I let them finish and walked away, registering the information for another day. That day, I went home and put my emotions into writing “Yo No Vine a Jugar” — I didn’t come to play.
Satisfied with the song, I immediately felt better. I felt like I didn’t need the song anymore. Anger is uncomfortable, I didn’t want to reside there anymore. It was also embarrassing to me, somehow, to admit this anger — I’m usually all peace and love — but I shared the song with a few close friends. One of my best girlfriends said, “We absolutely need songs like this that capture the anger and make power from it.” So, I kept it, and it turned into just the anthem I needed to get through that difficult year. Now whenever things (people) get challenging, my brain sings, “¡Yo No Vine a Jugar!”
Going into the recording, I started looking for examples of women embracing their rage. Pipilotti Rist’s “Ever Is Over All” and Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” were guideposts of inspiration. For the video, I turned to director Yeya Monroig of Puerto Rico-based cinematography company Como Imágenes to interpret the song visually. The result is a tense and trippy video that captures the complexity of holding space for anger, but also the swagger that comes with it.
On this album, I feel like with every song I turn the dial to a different emotion, and that’s super satisfying. In the past, I had a hard time allowing myself to write from some perspectives and emotions; I’m slowly learning not to shut down those ideas and to commit to writing the truth. We need music that captures all of our different emotions, from celebration and love to sadness and outrage. With “Yo No Vine a Jugar,” I had a moment of doubt as I was revising the lyrics where I thought, oh, maybe the story is that I’m mad because you hurt someone I love. But then I realized that was a cop-out. The truth was that I was angry because that person was messing with me. I decided to not back away from the truth and leaned in harder to the don’t-fuck-with-me vibe.
Ever since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, I’ve had a renewed focus on the island. I have rematriation fantasies all the time and try to go a few times a year. I started a non-profit called PRIMA (Puerto Rican Musicians and Artists) alongside my friends from Buscabulla to give emergency grants in those first few months after Maria and we’ve continued to facilitate musicians helping musicians in this new post-Maria reality. I’m about to play my first show on the island and I couldn’t be more excited. In the future, I would like to spend half my time on the island and the other half in NYC.
Puerto Rico knows a lot about converting anger into action. I was there this summer when the collective rage at corruption forced the ouster of the governor. Forcing Governor Rosello out was just the beginning. Puerto Ricans are still in the streets protesting against a massive list of injustices and using their anger to fight the good fight. People have been wildly creative with their protests and I’m really happy that music has been a huge part of it. I’m excited for this new Puerto Rico that demands to be respected and has taken to the streets to make its voice heard. It took anger to unify so many people. The sense of community in the protests is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. It’s my sincere hope that we will reach the tipping point in the States soon and will follow Puerto Rico’s lead. Let’s not fall into despair and hide our heads in the sand, let’s embrace our anger and turn it into action.
— Ani Cordero
(Photo Credit: Bek Andersen)