A decade or so after her breakthrough single Meu Rap Jazz created waves online, Reis has become a bonafide role model in Brazilian popular culture. An example of representation she sees as long overdue. “I used to watch artists like Beyoncé and others dance, so for me it’s about telling a story about being free. At the time we weren’t seeing young black people in Brazil doing things on television, so I think I embraced hip hop culture, and it embraced me, because I could see myself in other young people around the world. Not just from America, also African artists.
“But I’m a Brazilian woman and I find other inspiration, too, and it’s difficult to separate things — I’ve grown up with both inside me,” she continues, before we ask if the situation has changed in terms of representation and opportunities for exposure in Brazil. “There’s still a problem. But now we have the internet. That has made some things happen. Like my career, for example.”
“And we have fought against racism in television, in the culture, everywhere. So we fight for representation. And something has changed, because they, the brands, are realising we need to see each other, and it needs to happen now,” says Reis, going on to suggest that while improvements are evident, the reasons behind them may not always be strictly humanitarian.
“I don’t think they are thinking ‘Oh my God, we need to do this for people’. It’s just about money. But things are changing, slowly, and they are changing because of the public demand, which is really important to continue,” she says. Our conversation moves to her own experience as a young black female artist in control of her own career. “It’s not easy. But I’m a determined person, and I’ve been fighting, my manager has been fighting with me too. I believe it’s possible to change the world.”