TONITE: Shamone It



VILLAGE VOICE: Almost overnight, Shamir Bailey became something of a hero. At this time last year, he was releasing his first EP, the five-track Northtown, named for the Las Vegas suburb from which the singer-songwriter hails. Immediately, the EP showed a rare promise, garnering positive reviews for its clever meld of smart synth-pop and disco-inspired beats. And then there was Shamir himself: an über-stylish youngster, barely twenty, with a voice that sounded surprisingly like Nina Simone’s. He was entirely self-styled, from the way he sang and the smart construction of infectious songs that lay just somewhere left of mainstream pop, to his vibrant sartorial choices, to his nonchalant deconstruction of gender. Like Madonna, like Prince, like Beyoncé, “Shamir” became an immediate and singular brand, the kind of artist the world can identify simply, by only one name, because there is no one else to compare them to. In May, Shamir released his first full-length LP, Ratchet, on XL Recordings, to pretty much universal acclaim. The record was produced by Nick Sylvester, the Godmode label founder and former Pitchfork staffer who recorded and released Northtown on his Brooklyn-based imprint after Shamir sent him some demos. Like the EP, Ratchet is an eclectic blend of genres – R&B, disco, rap, funk, house – bursting with hooks and sharp turns of phrase. It’s a collection of songs you can hear once and never get out of your head, a glorious whirlwind of party anthems that manage to be heartfelt and distinctive. MORE