“It was the hook that sold me,” Cardi B wrote on Instagram back in September when sharing Me Gusta, her genre-blending collab with Anitta and Puetro Rican rapper Myke Towers. “I love this song. It sooo happy and positive.” Not all of Cardi’s 77 million Instagram followers were familiar with Anitta, and maybe the elements of baile funk and pagodão (a sound associated with Brazil’s Bahia state) on the bilingual track were new to their ears. But the Bronx rapper was right to be beaming with pride. Anitta is Brazil’s biggest popstar, a cultural juggernaut so influential that her fans were recently begging her to run for president (she declined – for one thing, she’s only 27, and in Brazil, you need to be at least 35 to run).
As expected, Me Gusta is massive. It’s now gathered around 106 million global streams, and the video has racked up 65 million YouTube hits. It was also Anitta’s first track to reach the top 100 of the US Billboard Charts, debuting at no.91.
But big stats aren’t Anitta’s main motivation (“I don’t even look at the numbers. I let my team worry about it, I don’t give a shit,” she told TIME this year.) Since her breakthrough 2013 hit Show das Poderosas (Powerful Girls Performance), she has blended reggaeton, R&B, high energy pop and rap with baile funk – the genre which represents Rio De Janeiro’s favelas, where she was born and raised. And as her celebrity status has surged, Anitta’s taken on a sense of political responsibility, campaigning against one of Brazil’s music copyright laws, raising awareness about deforestation of the Amazon and engaging in discussions inspired by Black Lives Matter.
Anitta took some time out of her busy schedule to do THE FACE’s 100% questionnaire. Check it out below.
10%: When did you first find your confidence as an artist?
I don’t know why, but when I was a little kid, I was already telling my whole family: “when I’m a big artist…”, “when I’m very famous…”, “when I’m the biggest artist everywhere…”. So actually, I think I was born with it!
20%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Whatever I’ve been through, I sing about the opposite. I had a lot of struggle in my life. I was born in a very humble place. During my childhood whatever situation that happened to me that I felt bad about, I just tried to make music like it was the opposite. [I was] putting myself in another reality. I think about everything that I’ve been through, but from the perspective that I was the winner so that I didn’t get upset.
Whatever I’m singing, I’m just trying to think of positive things about how my personality can change some situations in my life. That’s why my songs are all full of empowerment and a good message.
30%: What’s a bad habit that you wish you could get rid of?
I’m a very open person and I wish I wasn’t like that. My family always tells me that I open myself too much to everyone and I wish I was a little bit more of a more mysterious person, and I’m definitely not!
40%: Break down your typical day at work…
Before it was more about travelling, from country to country. Now, in quarantine, I just wake up and I have some stuff to do online. If I have a video interview then I need to wake up, get dressed and everything, do my beauty stuff.
50%: What’s the best thing about working with Cardi B?
Anyone that knows her and knows me always says “you girls are so fucking alike!”. We’re so, so alike. I love that she’s honest, that she says whatever comes to her mind. I think that’s the best thing about working with somebody that’s so similar to you.
60%: And what was the best thing about working with Myke Towers?
He has a sense of humour that I love. Very, very good vibes. I love people with a sense of humour. I’ve dated a bunch of comedians because I really like it! He came to Brazil for the first time to shoot the video [for Me Gusta] and he was so humble. It’s easy to work with him. He’s huge in Latin America, but he’s not the type of person who has a bunch of requests. Sometimes we work with people and they have a list of thousands of requests, but Myke’s just like “okay, everything’s fine!”. I loved it.
70%: What was the last film, book or TV show that really inspired you?
I’m always getting references for music videos and whatever I do, not from music stuff but from movies and series. This new thing that I’m going to record I got references from Charlie Chaplin, another one I got references from movies that I like, like Forrest Gump. But you can barely notice. It’s just flavours that I get, to make me feel like I’m in that kind of movie.
80%: How did you celebrate your last birthday?
It was kinda bad because I was pretty much on lockdown. I got sad because I used to host a lot of parties in my house, and I love it, but this time I couldn’t do it, so I felt really sad. I was born very poor and until I got to be a singer and I didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate with a party, with cake or anything like that. When I got to be a singer, I had the opportunity, so I was really happy about it. This year I couldn’t so I spent it with my family.
90%: What can artists do to help save the world?
My audience started to ask me my positions on politics, on anything… about my way of thinking and I realised that our visibility can make people not think like us, but try to get more information about the important subjects.
100%: What’s your number 1 holiday destination?
Aspen. I love the snow, I love skiing.