Shamir Heterosexuality Self-released
“You’re just stuck in the box that was made for me,” muses Shamir Bailey over crunching percussion in Gay Agenda, the snarling opening track of his latest studio offering, Heterosexuality. Amid a storm of synths and drum machines that armour-plate his soaring voice, the non-binary, Philadelphia-based musician sets the stage for an acerbic critique of oppressive powers that be.
Heterosexuality is the first time we see Shamir grappling with his queerness so directly. He comes out swinging on Cisgender, yelling, “I don’t want to be a girl/ I don’t want to be a man”. He moves up the octave, screaming on pitch about a particularly queer pain that exists outside societal bounds; a pain that genderqueer people have long demanded be heard widely. It’s his prima donna moment.
Make no mistake – Shamir is a diva for the people. He doesn’t suffer fools, cops or the ruling class. Third track Abomination sees him issuing a rallying cry for abolition and revolt, rapping over a fuzzy electronic beat worthy of 2014-era St. Vincent. Shouting out messianic Black queer musical patron saint Tracy Chapman, Shamir’s flow remains dripping in a sardonic dark humour.
Interspersing slower moments like Father and bossa nova-tinged closer Nuclear amid tracks full of bravado, Heterosexuality is the voice of an artist attempting to integrate his shadows. It’s a bold sonic experiment with a clear message: I’m here, I’m queer, don’t fuck with me.