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Shakira’s Family Came Apart. Then Her Music Soared.

For Shakira, 2022 was a year of heartbreak. Decades of hit singles and groundbreaking Latin-pop crossovers couldn’t insulate the Colombian pop star from personal upheavals. In the glare of celebrity coupledom, she broke up with the soccer player Gerard Piqué, her partner for 11 years and the father of her two sons, Milan and Sasha. Her father was hospitalized twice for a fall that caused head trauma; he went on to require further brain surgery in 2023.

Shakira was also facing charges of tax evasion in a long-running case disputing whether she had lived primarily in Spain from 2012 to 2014; she declared residency there in 2015. Last November, she settled for a fine of 7.5 million euros (about $8.2 million), citing “the best interest of my kids.” Just days earlier, Shakira had collected the Latin Grammy for song of the year for “Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53,” a collaboration with the Argentine producer Bizarrap with wordplay clearly aimed at Piqué and his girlfriend.

The song was one of a string of singles Shakira released that referred directly to the breakup: the sarcastic “Te Felicito” (“I Congratulate You”); the regretful “Monotonía” (“Monotony”); the Bizarrap session, “Acróstico,” a ballad promising her children that she’d stay strong; and “TQG” (“Te Quedó Grande,” roughly translated as “I’m Too Good for You”), a taunting reggaeton duet with the Colombian star Karol G, who had been through her own public breakup. “TQG” has racked up more than a billion streams.

Those songs reappear on Shakira’s first album since 2017, “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” (“Women No Longer Cry”), due Friday. All but one of its tracks deal with romantic ups and (mostly) downs, honed into crisp, tuneful pop structures. The LP continues Shakira’s career-long penchant for pulling together music and collaborators from across the Americas, dipping into rock, electro-pop, trap, Dominican bachata, Nigerian-style Afrobeats and regional Mexican cumbia and polka. Her guests include Cardi B, Ozuna and Rauw Alejandro. Not one of them upstages Shakira, who’s playful or raw as each moment demands.

Shakira spoke about the album from her white-walled kitchen at her home in Miami, where an air fryer sat on the counter behind her; a pet bunny in a pen was at her side. Unlike Barcelona, Miami is a hub of Latin pop where, she said, “I have the feeling I’ll be making a lot more music now.” Wearing a black tank top, with her hair in long blond waves, Shakira spoke happily and volubly about an album that, for her, was “alchemical.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

Shakira faced charges of tax evasion in a long-running case disputing whether she had lived primarily in Spain from 2012 to 2014. Last November, she settled for a fine of 7.5 million euros (about $8.2 million).Credit…Josep Lago/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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