With her clubby ALIAS EP, UK rapper Shygirl is unlike anyone else
We’ve seen Shygirl’s forward-thinking prowess throughout much of 2020, but with her new EP, it’s clear that she’s a face of the future.
There’s something brilliant about artists that sound unlike anything else around, and perhaps that’s a reason why we’ve become so drawn to UK rapper Shygirl over the course of 2020. The London lyricist-meets-DJ is just as heavily involved in hip-hop as she is club music, and as such, her music navigates the twisted world in which these two faces meet; rushing, manic dance music warping around the unadulterated raps that speed with as much of a forward-thinking vision as her productions do. She’s truly unlike anything else, and in the madness of 2020 both culturally and generally-speaking, that’s important to stand out.
Long time Shygirl fans would be quick to tell you of her craft, and how her left-field creativity has been stirring amongst the club underground for a few years now. Tightly knit with club favourites like Sega Bodega and Junglist, her work has long moved with the experimentation that draws people to Shygirl - just look at the pace of her 2018 Cruel Practice EP, or the songs that litter either side of it.
In 2019, a series of singles put Shygirl forward as an act worth paying attention to: Beauts, UCKERS and BB exploring the rich tapestry of her sound, with the aid of Sega Bodega to bring them to life. Beauts, for example, twisted with ear-piercingly dark melodies as a somewhat dystopian nod to collaborators such as Arca, who Shygirl collaborated with in early 2020. UCKERS, contrastingly, screams with manic paranoia translated into bubbly alt-rap, while BB screeches with confidence that defines her 2020 output too, both as a solo musician and a collaborator with the aforementioned Arca, plus UK dance newcomer Georgia and cult dance-rap hero Zebra Katz.
They’re each tracks that pluck from Shygirl’s deep-connected world of influences, and the many facets of both hip-hop and dance music that she takes from. ALIAS, her late-2020 seven-track EP, shows this on an even deeper level, through a format that allows her connected influences to dance amongst each other and contrast off one another. It’s an EP indebted to musicians like Bicep and SOPHIE just as much as it is Quay Dash and Megan Thee Stallion; both in its confidence, and its out-of-the-box thinking - a pair that shine throughout ALIAS.
Across the course of the EP, Shygirl explores the many facets of rap’s intersection with dance music, and the etching sounds of club mania that comes from that. On SLIME, for example, the hyper-experimentalism of SOPHIE’s production somehow doesn’t overshadow Shygirl’s own experimentalism but instead emphasises it; the UK rapper seemingly feeling most at ease amongst productions that would make other rappers quiver and give up. EP-ending SIREN, meanwhile, comes with odes to completely different facets of dance music: lasering eurodance cutting amongst the vigour of PC Music’s sharp synth.
FREAK, meanwhile, captures Shygirl at a newfound peak. It’s the type of invigorating, hyper-sexualised rap music that made such a hit out of WAP, delivered with the confidence that comes with specialising in its larger-than-life lyricism. “I hear they call me shy I can only wonder why,” she teases, her voice ringing out amongst the crashing production alongside. “'Cause I get down low and I'm always with a guy / Yeah, I can bring a girl or I can bring a whole crew / Meet me at the bar, if you lose me, I can find you.”
In total, the EP doesn’t even eclipse 20-minutes, but Shygirl doesn’t even need that long to prove herself. Each track is as out-there and invigorating as the last, jolting with its experimentalism and how Shygirl is able to make it her own. It’s unlike anything else in both hip-hop and dance music, and that’s something Shygirl works to cement on ALIAS.
We doubt there’s going to be anyone like her for a while, either.
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