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How Anitta Is Making the Whole World Fall in Love With Her

Brazil’s fearless, fun superstar found global fame just by being herself. Now people want her to run for president — but first, she’s got an album and a Coachella milestone to get through

Julyssa Lopez Apr 13, 2022

Anitta in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during Coachella rehearsals in March Sara De Santis for Rolling Stone

One day in March, Anitta woke up, groggy and a little hungover from an early birthday celebration, and found out she was the biggest artist in the world. Her slinky, sexy song “Envolver” had just topped Spotify’s global charts — a massive, historical feat that also made her the first Brazilian artist to ever reach that spot with a solo single.

“My cellphone is going crazy,” Anitta says on a Zoom call from Rio later that day, flashing a radiant smile and sounding a little breathless from all the excitement. “It’s in all the newspapers, the TV news, everything. The whole country is literally, like, stopped.” But even as a gigantic swath of the country celebrated her accomplishments, Anitta needed to focus. She was about to rehearse for Coachella, where she’ll again make history as the first Brazilian solo artist to ever perform on the festival’s mainstage — and the show will coincide with the release of her highly anticipated new album, Versions of Me.

The album has been more than three years in the making, morphing over time into an ecstatic, trilingual synthesis of global sounds — fearless, fun, and audacious, like Anitta herself.There’s sweetness in songs like “Girl From Rio,” which interpolates the classic “The Girl from Ipanema”; “Boys Don’t Cry” is a sleek electro-pop song sparked by Anitta’s love of Panic! at the Disco; “Gata” toys with the classic reggaeton song “Yo Tengo Una Gata” and bounces from popeton to Brazilian funk.

The featured artists on the LP range from Khalid to Saweetie to Myke Towers, representing the kind of world-spanning exchanges that Anitta touts proudly. “I love mixing cultures,” she says. “I think it’s so important… [It] makes people get more into the culture of different places and get to learn different things.” She says that she was holding in tears when she was in the studio with Khalid. The project also features the late Brazilian artist Mr. Catra, who appears on the Portuguese collaboration “Que Rabão”; Anitta has said she’s donating proceeds from the song to his family.

Versions of Me is, undoubtedly, an evolution from Anitta’s last album, Kisses, from 2019. Kisses experienced plenty of commercial success, landing at number four on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums chart and scoring a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Urban Music Album. But to Anitta, that album represents the hard-wrought journey to prove herself in the industry, something she’s been fighting to do since she first broke out in the Brazilian funk scene in the early 2010s. Though Kisses included impressive collaborations with people such as Becky G, Ludmilla, Snopp Dogg, and the Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso, it came together through Anitta’s sheer will and the months she spent working in overdrive to pull the entire thing off. “I didn’t have an international record label. I didn’t have management. I didn’t have anything,” she says. “I literally made that album to search for a team to show people, ‘Hi, this is what I’m capable to do. Can you please join me? Can you please believe in my dream and my future?’”

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Luckily, it worked, and it made Anitta one of the biggest stars in the Latin pop world. For her next act, she’s ready to take on the rest of the planet, and she’s planning to do so by sharing the most uncompromising portrait of herself on Versions of Me. She wanted to show every side of her personality — and if you’re Anitta, that’s a lot. “I just feel like I’m a person with a lot of different personalities in just one person,” she says, laughing. “All my friends say that they wait for me to wake up and wait, like, 15 minutes to find out which one is in control in that moment… If I want to be sexy, if I want to be romantic, if I want to be cute or hot or sporty, it’s the same for me with music.”

Many of the songs were inspired by her adventures — and misadventures — in love, sex, and romance. (Currently, she reveals, she’s in an open relationship with a football player who wants to stay anonymous. “He can do whatever he wants, I can do whatever I want… It’s very healthy.”) Whenever Anitta would hit the studio, she’d rifle through what was happening in her personal life and pour all of her unfiltered thoughts directly into the album. “I like to write about something that’s in my head in the moment, and I change boyfriends as much as I change my panties. I fall in love so quick, and I forget them even faster,” she says. “It’s very easy for me to go to the city one day and be super in love and write about it. Then one week later, I can write about going crazy and fucking everyone.”

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One of the most unabashedly sexual and outspoken moments on Versions of Me comes on “I’d Rather Have Sex,” a song that’s playful and fun. Anitta breaks out into a giant grin when she starts talking about the track. “It’s so me,” she says. “I don’t have time for bullshit. I don’t have time for relationships that are not going to bring the best for me. So, I think this song just says in a funny way that I’d really rather have sex than being arguing or wasting my time.”

It’s music that reflects just how refreshingly open and completely unfiltered she is, a quality that’s made her such a beloved figure in Brazil that people have urged her to run for president. She’s years away from being able to do so, but during the pandemic, she started diving deep into the country’s politics, hosting political workshops for her followers on Instagram, and speaking out against the country’s conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro. She’s hoping to galvanize her fans to make a difference. “I’m doing a campaign for the young people to register to vote,” she says. “I think that’s how we’re going to take this motherfucking president out of the command of the country, because we don’t deserve this shit.”

Anitta never minces words, and it’s part of what makesVersions of Me feel so liberated. “I made this album thinking of me,” she says. “I hate creating expectations, because I’m always scared of things not going the way I was expecting — so I just don’t think about it. If I love it, it’s good. I don’t need anyone else to love it.”

From Rolling Stone US.

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