The young artist known as Shamir does not look especially imposing. The lyrics for the single “On The Regular,” describe the singer as “about a buck twenty” and “skinny as a rod.” A sweet face, candy-colored clothing, and an upper-register voice seem to contradict the sing-song bridge of the song’s middle portion, where Shamir announces, “Don’t try me I’m not a free sample/Step to me and you will be handled.”
At this point in this song’s video, Shamir appears shrouded in darkness: the light comes from a disco ball, his face stoic, his hands grip a baseball bat. It’s a good symbol for Shamir’s music, its tunes and lyrics take a pointed disco stick and confidently pokes holes in ideas about maleness, femaleness, heterosexuality, and homosexuality. While literal-minded listeners grasp for answers, Shamir’s Twitter account clears this right up: “I have no gender, no sexuality, and no fucks to give.”
Shamir’s debut album, Ratchet, is a self-assured batch of bouncy-castle, deep house mission-statements (with a few detours into acoustic ballads and electro-pop melancholy). Taken together, they herald a Las Vegas-born, indie-rock-based, guitar-playing, hip-hop-and-country-music-influenced, 20-year-old dance diva and said diva’s intention to make the world listen and look.
The latest single, “Call It Off” (above), has a video featuring Shamir as a gleeful muppet, dancing through a clothing store with a crew of like-minded felt creatures, warning against “basic, ratchet guys” and pleading, “Listen up, I’m saving you.”
Publicity about Shamir is pushing comparisons to disco legend Sylvester and the similarities are there, but Shamir more resembles the outcome of a sci-fi narrative in the Nevada desert, one where DNA strands of Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face?” and Ultra Nate’s “It’s Over Now” and Derrick Carter’s rubbery dissonance and every Ten City record get downloaded into an incredibly cool alien child. Shamir will, indeed, make you feel mighty real, but on Shamir’s own terms.
Now watch “Call It Off” because it’s going to make your day 100 percent better: