Note from BBT: Well, it definitely looks like ole’ girl is on her way. Last week, I received a press release about Iza’s new single and video for the song “Gueto” that needed translation for the English-speaking market. I knew this was coming. Three singers whose names have come up on this blog periodically over the past few years have been Iza, Anitta and Ludmilla; two black women and a chameleon in Anitta’s case.
All three have shown that they were interested in crossing over and attaining access to the American market and this the global market. All three have made collaborations with American artists and it seems that seems that the push is on. Anitta’s latest release, “Girl From Rio”, is a song in which she is singing in English. The video already has over 26 million views on You Tube.
Iza is making her own moves. Wednesday, May 19th, was a historic day for Iza, the owner of hits like “Pesadão”, “Saudade Além” and “Ginga”. The Rio native achieved a billion reproductions on the Spotify platform with the album Dona de Mim, her debut album, released in 2018. In her stories, she shared the post of a fan club that celebrated the feat and wrote: “My talismans, you are amazing. Too much!”.
In this regard, Iza joins the ranks of the aforementioned Brazilian pop singers, Anitta and Ludmilla, who already passed the mark. Overall, Iza is the fourth Brazilian pop singer to achieve this feat. The representation of the singer’s feat should also be taken into account, since, on YouTube, she became the second black Brazilian woman to reach the mark of more than one billion views of her videos.
Dona de Mim brought Iza hits like “Rebola”, in partnership with Gloria Groove, “Bateu” and, of course, the homonymous track, whose video has already garnered more than 200 million views.
With a recent feature in the American Time magazine and, once again, another Brazilian woman being compared to Pop music’s Queen B, Beyoncé, it’s hard to say to say whether Iza will able to meet such expectations,, but the girl is clearly on the rise.
The singer was recently voted by Time magazine as one of the leading personalities of the next generation. The 30-year-old singer is among the ten people chosen by the magazine in the category this year and released on Friday, May 28.
Time highlights the singer’s trajectory and how she became one of the important voices against racism in Brazil. “I don’t talk about racism because it’s a subject I like, I talk about it because it’s necessary. I can say a lot through music. Our microphone is a weapon and needs to be used,” Iza told the American magazine.
The publication also recalls that Iza was elected Woman of the Year in 2020 by GQ Brasil, and the singer celebrated her international recognition on her Instagram with a video of the interview and a thank you in Portuguese and English. “Mamma, I’m in Time. What an honor to be part of the “Next Generation Leaders” list of 2021! I can’t believe it! Many thanks to Time Magazine and Jenna Caldwell for this wonderful opportunity! God is good!!!”, she wrote. It’s also worth mentioning that singer received her first Latin Grammy nomination in 2018.
With all of this, the singer’s week ended at a busy pace, since on Wednesday, 26th, Iza started her new “Gueto” project with a video narrated by actress Zezé Motta and journalist Maju Coutinho, and on Thursday night, 27th, she announced the release date of her new single for June 3. With all of her victories of late, a new release would only add to her momentum. And here it is…
Iza celebrates her roots in ‘Gueto’: ‘Not to forget my origins’
Born in the North Zone of Rio, singer talks about new single, childhood memories, ancestry and reveals inspiration in Beyoncé
By Filipe Pavão
Iza is back and proud of her roots! The singer released, on Thursday, her latest single: “Gueto”. The song recalls her childhood in Olaria, in the suburb of Rio, and exalts the artist’s trajectory, who became one of the main names in Brazilian pop music and advertising. “’Gueto’ is not about ostentation, it’s about the celebration and occupation of a menina preta retinta (dark-skinned black girl), from the North Zone, featured in various commercials,” she says. In a Brazilian advertising market in which it was rare to see black Brazilians just a few years ago, this is also big news as IZA has been chosen to be the poster girl for a number of companies, including PicPay.
“’Gueto’ comes so I don’t forget my origins. When I say ‘mother, I’m at Globo’, it’s not about Globo, it’s about me being there, it’s about a black woman being there. It’s knowing where you’re going and always leaving the door open so that people can occupy and sit at the table with you,” explains Iza about the lyrics composed by her, Pablo Bispo, Ruxell and Sergio Santos.
The idea of representing her origins is not only present in the lyrics of the song, to the contrary, it is also present in the music video directed by Felipe Sassi. The record exalts symbols of Rio’s suburbs, such as the freezie, the hose bath and the blue pay phone on the street, in addition to showing Iza’s mother, Dona Isabel, climbing the steps of the Igreja da Penha church.
“I wanted to draw this colorful ghetto that exists in my head. I’m from Olaria and I do remember a colorful, well-kept ghetto where we weren’t afraid to walk down the street. A ghetto that had the law to close the street on Sunday – you didn’t even need to notify the city, you just had to put up a rope and no truck would even enter. I wanted people to see their origins and remember special things that they experienced in their neighborhoods too,” she reveals.
In fact, the main memory of Iza’s childhood is stamped in the clip: the habit of painting the Brazilian flag on the street floor during the World Cup. “I didn’t understand why I could paint the ground back then. Suddenly, everyone was on the street painting the most beautiful flags… Our flag is beautiful and it’s ours. I wanted to bring that feeling of pride. We’re going through a difficult time, but we cannot forget that Brazil is made by Brazilians and that our country is the sh*t”, highlights the singer.
“Gueto” is the first release from Iza’s second studio album, due out next semester. The singer reveals that the successor to Dona de Mim (2018) is an album that will pass through several musical styles, such as dance hall, reggae, R&B and trap, in addition to being more personal and mature.
“I spent a lot of time with myself in 2020, just looking at my face, so I faced a lot of stuff that I was pushing under the rug and it’s definitely going to be a more personal album, a more mature album. When people start talking more about themselves, without fear, it means a sign of maturity. It’s been 30 years, right? I’m maturing,” she reflects.
Iza points out that it’s the first time she’s talked about herself so much in a song, but it’s not the first time she’s shown black culture in her discography. Considered one of the leaders of the new generation by Time magazine, she talks about the importance of addressing her ancestry in her work.
“I learned that there’s no way I can tell where I’m going if I don’t know where I came from. People get lost along the way if they don’t know where they came from. Therefore, it’s very important to put our feet on the ground, in our roots and make it clear to people that under our braids there is a lot of history to tell. It’s much more than a style. I understand that our hair is successful today, but it’s part of who we are, it’s part of our survival,” she ponders.
Beyonce as inspiration
Iza still talks about the social role of art. For her, artists with more visibility should think about what they can do for their communities to become vectors of change. “Just like Beyoncé, who made ‘Black is King,’ she inspired and encouraged me to talk about where I came from. This is magic, the liberation of being proud to say who you are, from wanting to tell the world who you are. I hope that my work also has this impact on people’s lives,” she says.
“We need to see each other in places. We need to see ourselves outside of what society sees for us as a stereotype. Many who came before worked hard to open the doors, now we have to work to roll up on this door and leave it open,” she adds.