Courtesy of XL Records.
5. Ratchet – Shamir
Shamir Bailey caught my attention along with that of many others late last year with his single “On the Regular,” which provided layered rhythms, charming lyrics, and a heaping load of in-your-face attitude. Following the hype, Ratchet is nowhere near disappointing. In his debut album, the young singer takes an unconventional approach by broadening his sound instead of narrowing it down to conform to any certain classification. With a remarkably unique voice, Shamir takes on the darker side of romance in tracks such as “Demon,” singing “My wings turned black, no turning back./Yeah, you have me completely.” Bonus track “KC” shows Shamir’s versatility as an artist, juxtaposing such a quiet, cry-worthy acoustic track alongside some of the loudest funk of the year. And if you want to know what I mean by loud, just listen to single “Call It Off” or “Make a Scene,” both of which sound like they may have been inspired by air horns (in the best way possible). Regardless, don’t let the album’s pop-culture title deter you—this album has a surprising hint of grace in all of its ghetto.