SHIRT is one artist who should not be taken lightly. He recently released his fourth album, PURE BEAUTY, a skillful blending of hooks and musical finesse. The album tackles an array of hot-button issues while also exhibiting a distinct aesthetic for the album.
SHIRT is a Queens-based rapper who dropped out of high-school with his GED and did not get an undergraduate degree. However, he is currently studying abroad in Europe, completing his Master’s degree in Fine Arts. He was accepted based on his impressive multi-genre portfolio of both music and art. SHIRT was signed onto Third Man Records, owned by Jack White of The White Stripes, and is the only rapper on the label. Clearly, SHIRT is full of potential and is accomplishing what most rappers could only dream of.
PURE BEAUTY steps out as an album worth your time from the beginning. The album opens with “SNOWBEACH,” a smooth, low-energy song with a lazy electric guitar riffing at the front of the beat. In this song, SHIRT focuses on his wordplay, first and foremost. Most of PURE BEAUTY is defined by hard hitting hooks and short verses, but in “SNOWBEACH,” SHIRT sticks to the rap.
“ENERGY” is full of heavily distorted techno, so the song feels like a glitchy track from Tron, and shows SHIRT’s musical dexterity. He is not confined to typical boom-bap or trap beats and can mix genres and forms to fit into his aesthetic. In “FUCK IT GOING LIVE,” raps over a jazz piano and classical guitar, a distinct difference from the previous distortion and electric feeling of the album. The rapping is ranting and gritty, contrasting from the actual track, but still sounds great.
SHIRT Talks About the Real Issues
“WOMAN IS GOD” is one of the two stand-out songs on the album. SHIRT raps about the strength of women and empowers them over a captivating female vocal track. He discusses his own mother, matriarchal societies, and powerful women in popular culture. The song is overall a total celebration of all types of women and a promise to stand up with any woman in his life.
In “FLIGHT HOME,” SHIRT reflects on going home to the people you love in life. He talks about immigrants and their struggle, and how Americans tend to be filled with anger when strangers are brought into their country. Then, he speaks on racism, and brings an interesting perspective on the fight for equality:
I ain’t out here villainize any one color
I’m just pointing out the nerve you have for doing it to us
And I can’t get mad
Yeah, I can’t get mad at a racist ’cause they learned it from somebody
So unless I’m gonna kill everybody, I’m just gonna love probably
“FLIGHT HOME” is accompanied with a music video. SHIRT sits on top of a box truck, rapping through the streets of his home in New York. The video also shows SHIRT leisurely sipping wine and eating dinner, unfazed by the struggle in life. He keeps a level-head and continues with his art despite the controversial nature of his topics.
SHIRT is a rapper who is sure to strike a chord either musically, aesthetically, or lyrically with all people. Be sure to follow him and listen to PURE BEAUTY for a hip-hop experience you won’t soon forget.