Hear me out.
I don’t really care for house music. I feel extraordinarily uncomfortable with the word “ratchet.” I imagine Las Vegas to be something of an especially shiny hell.
But Shamir Bailey’s latest release is a work of art and I am kind of obsessed with it.
The crown jewel of “Ratchet”, in my humble and uneducated opinion, is “Call It Off”. Shamir’s mantra of “no more basic, ratchet guys” is a siren song to my soul and his latter-day Madonna-esque sound is a natural companion to my drunk white girl dance moves. I realize that my language is getting really dumb and flowery here, but that’s because we’re basically dealing with the “Vogue” of our generation- i.e., a relatively groundbreaking piece of modern pop music.
There’s also “On the Regular”. This is Shamir’s grand entry (symbolically, not technically- it’s the third track). He is making himself known. He is carving out his identity. This is not a simple party song- this is an introduction of epic proportions. Am I listening to Prince right now? Or an ethereal voice from heaven above? Or the most badass self-love anthem ever?
There’s also “Youth” another Madonna-esque ballad, this one for the young and clueless. There’s “Demon”, which is, contrary to its title (or perhaps in line with it), a love song. And there is “Make a Scene”, which is wickedly indulgent and possibly satirical- and therefore speaks to me on a spiritual level.
“Because life’s no answer
Just one big guess
So why not go out-
And make a scene?”
Dammit Shamir. You know the best and worst of my inner self. Your retro-inspired beats match those of my heart. Your glorious voice is both soothing and exhilarating.
Here are the other things I’ve been listening to lately:
– Earl Sweatshirt’s “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside”
– Speedy Ortiz’s “Foil Deer”
– Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color”
– Tyler, The Creator’s “Cherry Bomb”
– Torres’ “Sprinter”
– The Deer’s “On the Essence of the Indomitable Spirit”
– Every recent Florence + the Machine single
Why have I bothered you with this very scatterbrained list, you ask? Because I want to drive home the point that loving “Ratchet” is highly out of character for me. Whilst sober I rarely, if ever, listen to sassy, house-y electro-pop and actually enjoy it. And it’s even more rare for me to truly regard the stuff as some of the finest new music around right now.
But there’s just something about Shamir and “Ratchet”. I can’t say much about Shamir as a person- although there’s a very interesting Pitchfork story that does just that- but if you give “Ratchet” a listen or two you can just tell that Shamir’s work is way more than shallow party pop. It’s the work of an artist who sure as shit has something to say, but won’t bludgeon you over the head with messages, morals and metaphors. Shamir is sure of himself, but refuses to take himself too seriously- because after all, he’s still just a kid. This former aspiring country artist (yeah, what?) won’t allow himself to be put into a box, and I respect that.
“Don’t try me, I’m not a free sample
Step to me and you will be handled
See, that’s my crown on the mantle
And if you try to touch it, yes, there will be scandal”
Shamir, you goddamn angel. Thank you for being you and thank you for gracing us with “Ratchet”.