February 23, 2016


Future Black History Month: Shamir, Pop Prodigy

Scott Dudelson/Getty Images
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

This month we've been highlighting an artist, actor, musician, writer—any person of cultural note—every day for our Future Black History Month series. Who are the variety of rising forces changing history right before our very eyes? Who will continue to inspire change in the future?

We've mentioned our fair share of musicians: There's Kendrick LamarMike WiLL Made-ItLeon BridgesFKA TwigsBig FreediaJanelle MonáeJ. ColeAlabama Shake's Brittany HowardChance The Rapper...the list goes on and on. Today it's all about Shamir, the up-and-coming dance-pop prodigy whose very existence seems to challenge our notions of gender, sexuality and pop stardom.

Shamir first appeared on the indie pop scene with his colorful hit "Call It Off," where the Las Vegas-bred singer/songwriter, now 21 years old, danced his way through bright rooms before transforming into a puppet. A press release described the song as being about a positive, universal "transformative joy we feel when we finally get ourselves out of bummer situations—relationships, bad career moves, whatever it is." 

Not only was Shamir's sound innovative and interesting (his voice alone is ineffable), the energy was intoxicating. He made fun fun again. When the music media world dug deeper into his musicality, it learned Shamir's incredible love of country music, another element that made him stand out in an increasingly genre-fied world.

Shamir became more than a modern proponent of house music (a form of dance music so personally politicized, often queer) and progressive pop, he became a face for those who don't believe in gender binaries. It first arrived in a tweet where he wrote, "I have no gender, no sexuality, and no fucks to give" and has since reverberated in influence. Shamir is the future of pop, but he's the future of culture, too. That's a powerful combination.

For more Future Black History Month, click here.