Chhoti Maa 'Caldo de Hueso'
"Listen to this voice. Listen to this music.
I won’t lie, I’m a white woman from Connecticut, and my Spanish is sub-par. So when I come to Chhoti’s music, I greet first the low, ancient growl, the multiple stratospheres her voice lives in, from soft pleading to battering-ram rhythmic rhymes, from mournful crooner to nasty, and scary. I do catch some words, like the “mala vibra” chorus of “Vibra” that will make a creepy cousin’s knees shake — bad vibes, man — as haunted as the nastiest ‘90s gangsta rap that some of this music takes its cue from.
I am grateful for the opportunity to amplify and uplift this voice and then get the fuck out of the way.
I first heard about Chhoti Maa through her work at Women’s Audio Mission, where she recorded this album as part of a grant awarded to her. I looked her up and couldn’t believe the voice I heard on Agua Corre, her album from 2016. The thing is, Chhoti looks young. Young and shining and bright and with all of her future ahead of her (which it is.) But her voice is OLD, gargling the ancient, the sound of layered generations of protective mothers. The song “dejame entrar,” pleading and grieving and insistent, made me want the world to hear and embrace these words and this woman whose work is so relevant to this moment in history, and so necessary for the future.
I’m writing this from my apartment in Oakland, California, and Chhoti’s music is swimming like the fog through these hazy-sun trees. CRAA CRAA. Biting, with the California soil under her feet, soil that used to be Mexico (”government sinners…” she sings.) I’d like to step aside and let Chhoti Maa lead."
— Merrill Garbus (tUnE-yArDs)