SHAMIR

Pasatiempo - - PASA TEMPOS - — Casey Sanchez

Ratchet (XL) Un­abashedly gay and proudly an­drog­y­nous, Shamir is a twenty-year-old singer and rap­per whose macho drag bravado has not been pop­u­lar since the days of Sylvester. His un­con­ven­tional songs are built on jar­ring loops of early disco and house, with lyrics about volatile re­la­tion­ships on the rocks and a steroidal street swag­ger Shamir de­vel­oped grow­ing up as an un­apolo­getic, black male fash­ion­ista in the rough neigh­bor­hoods of north Las Ve­gas. On the open­ing track named af­ter his home­town, he vamps, “Ve­gas, we’re sin­ners all right, at least at night.” Known for his airy vo­cal stylings, Shamir proves him­self an able rhyme spit­ter on the club-rap stom­per “On the Reg­u­lar.” On the breakup call to arms “Call It Off,” he soars over a slinky eight-bit video game beat with the neon-in­flected sass of “Bad Girls”-era Donna Sum­mer. Crit­ics who dis­miss Shamir as one more Able­ton-en­hanced voice float­ing over at­trac­tive dance beats would do well to lis­ten to his re­cent cover of “The House That Built Me,” coun­try singer Mi­randa Lam­bert’s earthy bal­lad about fac­ing down child­hood mem­o­ries. A mil­lion miles from the dance floor, Shamir dev­as­tates the track ac­com­pa­nied only by an acous­tic guitar and his own silky, world-weary voice.

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