Her name began to be heard in the local music scene around four years ago, when videos of a Peruvian teenager putting her own spin on the hits of pop icons like Michael Jackson in Quechua, the language of her ancestors, began circulating widely on social networks.
Today, at 19, Renata Flores Rivera is no longer the girl who does covers. Her own powerful, transgressive content, with a strong sense of identity, has gone beyond the borders of her native Ayacucho and has made her, in the eyes of the world, the new queen of Quechua rap, a title that was recently awarded to her by the prestigious New York Times. There's no stopping her.
Being an artist is in her DNA
Renata grew up in Huamanga, home to many artists, in a family completely devoted to art. Her parents own a music school, where the singer experienced her first connections with musical instruments and which today has become the recording studio for her first album.
The love for her roots and the curiosity she had for hearing – and wanting to understand – what her Quechua-speaking grandmothers were saying, led her to ask her parents to teach her how to speak it. During this learning process, she realized that the number of people who speak the language of the Andes in a formal way is decreasing all the time.
A creative process
She couldn’t get the idea of rescuing her culture out of her head. She got so involved in the process that she ended up making it the main axis of her artistic career. With paper, pencil and the interpretative help of her grandmothers, Renata began to compose songs that, like her purpose, move away from everything commercial, and are inspired by social conflicts such as the ravages left by the time of violence in Peru, the empowerment of women and the difficulties that girls in the mountains have when it comes to completing their studies; from the latter, her acclaimed song Qam hina was born.
Initially she tried to accompany her lyrics with pop tunes. But she realized that the content of her message needed a much stronger rhythm. “Rap is an aggressive genre musically, I feel that with it I can talk about social issues and express them as a form of protest,” says the singer.
Renata's goal is to reach the masses, but above all she wants to connect with her contemporaries, as she knows that the future of the Quechua language lies with them. This was another reason that led her to include contemporary rhythms in her compositions. “Above all I had to reach them. They are beginning to remember that Quechua is important,” she says.
The young artist also takes advantage of her social networks to reach out to young people. Aware of her role, she uses this influence responsibly and, through her platforms, shares small lessons from what she learns in her Quechua classes with her followers.
During this period of compulsory social isolation – due to COVID-19 – Renata is taking advantage of the time to spread the initiative Aprendiendo Quechua (Learning Quechua). “These are videos that I released on Youtube with covers of popular artists, the last one I made is of Billie Eilish,” she says. In this way, she hopes to familiarize younger people with Quechua through their favorite songs.
Inspiration in the works
Despite the adversities, Renata Flores is not afraid. From her home, in an environment specially adapted for her creative process, she takes the opportunity to work hard on new songs for her first album, which she managed to finance after becoming the winner of an artistic incentive granted by the Ministry of Culture.
“Isgun – which means 'nine' in English – is the name of the album we've been preparing since last year. The songs will be posted on Youtube and will include five new songs inspired by Andean women over the years,” she explains.
Renata is waiting to finish the music video for her album as well as some presentations that she has had to leave on standby because of the health crisis. However, that does not discourage her. On the contrary, she is taking these days as an opportunity to find inspiration and plan alternatives that will help her continue to stand out in these new times ahead.