By Cait Brennan, July 2015 Issue.

Shamir

Ratchet

XL Recordings | 

A handful of months ago, 20-year-old Shamir Bailey was working at a Ross Dress For Less in Las Vegas and dreaming of sharing his music with the world. A chance email with Godmode Records’ Nick Sylvester changed everything, and now Shamir’s one of the brightest breakout stars of 2015, with a boundary-breaking debut that’s a clarion call for outsiders everywhere.

Shamir’s voice is like ear candy, silky and alluring, living somewhere between dreamy teenage girl and world-weary diva. His lyrics are confessional, bold, hilarious and refreshingly sincere.

“I never felt ‘latched’ to a gender,” Shamir told NPR, and that feeling infuses everything Shamir does. There are no binaries here, no easy categories, just the amazingly joyous sound of a person embracing absolute creative freedom to be themselves. Ratchet is an intoxicating mix: classic ‘90s house-inspired riffs, suburban Vegas glamour damage, cutting-edge 21st century electronica.

“Life’s no answer, it’s just one big guess,” Shamir sings on “Make A Scene,” an anthem for breaking out of the boxes life puts you in. The take no prisoners “Hot Mess” drops Shamir’s voice into a down-and-dirty baritone on the intro before effortlessly soaring into diva range.

Shamir primarily sings, but he can rap, too; the genius jam “On The Regular” is a showcase for Shamir’s gorgeous flow as well as a declaration of intent. “You can’t contain the truth,” Shamir sings on the beautiful ballad “Darker” and “Head In The Clouds” is a whirling, dizzying dance floor gem.

The joyous synthfunk bassline of “Call It Off” will have you kicking that not-so-special someone to the curb. The song’s not-to-be-missed video transforms Shamir into a puppet, and includes a bonus hotline where you can call Shamir for “free, round the clock” relationship advice (for real!) at 1-844-4-SHAMIR.

Shamir is a bright, bold talent that nothing can contain.

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