Music

Anitta, First Brazilian Artist To Win a VMA: ‘I Was Born and Raised in the Ghetto of Brazil… We Never Would Think This Is Possible’

Brazilian artist Anitta took home the VMA’s Best Latin award last night for her song “Envolver,” which she performed earlier in the night. As she noted in her acceptance speech, this is the first time a Brazilian artist has won a VMA.

“Envolver,” a single from her fifth studio album “Versions of Me,” became a record-breaking hit this year despite being released in 2021. The video, which Anitta directed herself, went viral after the song blew up on TikTok thanks to the artist’s “booty-grinding” dance, as it’s come to be known.

The song also earned Anitta a Guinness World Record for being the first solo Latin song to top the Spotify Global Daily chart. “Envolver” even reached the 70th position on Billboard’s Top 100, the highest-charting song in Anitta’s entire career.

In her acceptance speech, she said, “Oh my god. I really wasn’t expecting this I think I’m gonna cry,” adding, “Tonight is history. It’s the first time of Brazil here. It’s the first time my country has ever won an award like that.” Her speech took a more personal turn when she explained the origins of the night’s performance.

“Tonight I performed here a rhythm that for many years in my country was considered a crime; I was born and raised in the ghetto of Brazil,” she said. According to the Independent, the Rio de Janeiro-born artist was referring to “favela funk,” which was criminalized by the Brazilian government in the 90s when the dances were tied to anti-authoritarian political activism.

A Professor of Musicology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais named Carlos Palombini explained, “The term ‘funkeiro’ became synonymous with ‘criminal’ in the media.” In addition to her dance’s political roots, Anitta has loudly voiced her disapproval of current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on multiple occasions.

Earlier this year, Bolsonaro lobbied for a ban on “political demonstrations” following the 2022 Lollapalooza Brasil festival after Welsh artist Marina took a firmly anti-Bolsonaro position on stage. “We need to stick together. I’m just sick of a certain kind of energy. Fuck Putin. Fuck Bolsonaro. Fuck him!” she said on stage. “We are sick of this energy. We are sick of it. You are the new generation and things are going to change,” reports Rolling Stone.

A Brazilian electoral justice named Raul Araújo imposed a ban on “ostentatious and extemporaneous” demonstrations of political activism, citing a fee of 50,000 reais for any violations. In response to this, Anitta, among many other Brazilian artists, tweeted: “50 thousand? Darn … one less bag. GET OUT BOLSONAROOOOO. Does this law also apply outside Brazil? Cos I only play international festivals.”

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