Me Gusta: Anitta Is On A Mission

Me Gusta: Anitta Is On A Mission

Clash meets the inspirational Brazilian pop renegade...

Anitta is a force to be reckoned with. A colossal star in her native Brazil, here’s a few basic points: she speaks, writes, and performs in a multitude of languages, she’s a deeply independent business woman, and Anitta continually champions progressive social causes at home and abroad.

And that's just for starters.

With the barriers around Latin culture tumbling on a daily basis, Anitta is moving with one aim – to put Brazilian culture on the international map, and to keep it there. 2020 might not be the most auspicious year to up-end pop culture, but she’s already on the march – scoring a massive hit single in Italy during lockdown, before regaining focus on her incoming album.

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New single ‘Me Gusta’ leads the way. You might have heard it – a sizzling latin pop banger, it matches the funk carioca styles of her youth to stadium-level production and stellar guest spots from Myke Towers and the one and only Cardi B.

“This song for me is the beginning of my new album – it’s showing people how the album is going to be,” she tells Clash. Taking time out for a quickfire call, Anitta bristles with energy and enthusiasm, she’s got a lot to express.

“The song is about powerful women,” says the Rio de Janeiro born performer. “It was recorded in Bahia, and those drums – the same sound as on Michael Jackson’s ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ - the drums are all played by women.”

It’s a real statement, one that splices together the Brazilian styles Anitta grew up with with the international platform she has constructed for herself. “We are a huge, huge maze of culture,” the singer comments. Intensely proud of her Brazilian heritage, she believes that the world has been waiting for a blend of Rio flavours.

Watching the barriers to Brazilian success tumble, she’s able to immediately put her finger on why. “It’s because of the internet,” says Anitta, “and because it’s close to Spanish people can understand the words. It’s close to Latin America, it’s close to the United States… we have so much potential!”

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But let’s pause for a minute. 2019 album ‘Kisses’ was an incredible success, an award-winning, chart-smashing phenomenon that spawned huge hit singles at home and across Latin America. “I just wanted to show my personality with that album,” she explains. “And it went way farther than I thought!”

It was a real tour de force – a trilingual visual album that found Anitta speaking her truth in explicit fashion. “I felt really special about it, but I think this new album I’m working on right now has a real mix of cultures that I’ve never had before,” the singer insists. “All the songs have this mix of Brazil, they all have a flavour of my country in there.”

An outspoken advocate for Brazilian music and arts, she’s unafraid to criticise her country’s authorities when necessary. The pandemic has wreaked havoc in Brazil, with Anitta using her voice to call for extra care to be given to those who need it. “Our government is not handling the situation in a good way,” she asserts. “Opinions like mine have been lost. I’ve been trying to learn about how the government works in this country, and then communicate that to people.”

“But it’s more than charity,” she continues. “I’ve been involved with medical staff, helping where I can.”

An affirmed vegan - “the way we treat animals is so irresponsible” - Anitta is also an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, having come out as bisexual a number of years ago.

It’s something she takes profoundly seriously, commenting: “I am open about my sexuality. But here in Brazil there is a lot of prejudice. I get so much love from LGBT community – they are amazing. There’s so much energy, so much excitement – it’s really inspiring to see them dancing at my shows.” 

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A whirlwind of action, Anitta has blended this need to help with focus on her own work. The depths of lockdown brought a curious surprise, when her Italian language collaboration with Fred de Palma – the outrageously catchy single ‘Paloma’ - became a colossal hit across mainland Europe, it’s success spreading like wildfire.

“I think when I sing in another language or speak in another language it’s a different version of me”, she comments. “That song was all done long distance – but it’s huge there now!”

Passionate about locating fresh adventures, Anitta also entered the gaming world during lockdown, with her inaugural stream attracting a live international audience of just under a million people. “I was so nervous!” she gasps. “I had never done something like that before. But I love trying new things. I love studying. I love instruments, the challenge of finding a new version of me.”

That’s not to suggest that Anitta is addicted to her work. She laughs when Clash asks what she does to relax, letting us in on a few quarantine secrets. Then she says simply: “I watched a lot of movies!”

Music remains at the forefront of her mind, however. “My album is almost done!” she tells Clash. “We’re pretty much wrapped on it. We’re working on music that we want to put out. We also want to record some music videos. We have a lot of songs still on the way… but let’s see what happens. We need to know what’s going to happen with the pandemic.”

2020 is the year the world paused, the year entire countries stood still. For Anitta, however, it’s been a time to find new focus, and re-centre herself. “My wish,” she says during our chat, “is to bring Brazilian culture to the world.”

With hits like ‘Me Gusta’ in her arsenal, Anitta’s wish is about to come true.

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'Me Gusta' is out now.

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