- Few artists in the bass scene are as explicitly conceptual as Fatima Al Qadiri. Each of her grime-infused releases is a vehicle to explore cultural understanding in the digital age, from western fantasies of China to American police brutality. But so far, Al Qadiri's concepts have tended to promise more than the music has delivered. For her new Hyperdub EP, she examines gender performativity in the Arab Gulf, and achieves a far stronger marriage of idea and execution.
The title Shaneera comes from a mispronunciation of the Arabic word "shanee'a," meaning outrageous. The word also has currency in the underground Kuwaiti queer scene, which uses the label to describe "being an evil queen." That's Al Qadiri on the cover, made up as her own badass queen alter-ego, Shaneera, in an homage to hyper-feminised images of female Arab pop stars. The tracks are peppered with spoken-word vocals from Kuwaiti collaborators who reference ballroom quips, the lyrics drawn from drag comedies and quotes from Grindr.
It's a heady concept, but Al Qadiri tackles the music with an original approach and a playful ear. She subverts her trademark video game melodies into glistening approximations of Arabic scales, while tightly syncopated percussion draws from grime drum kits and the traditional battery of Gulf drums. The stark sirens and sinuous melodies of "Alkahaf" glide with the menace of a voguing queen. The metallic rhythms of "Is2aleeha" are particularly potent for club play, while the smooth intonations of the vocalist Naygow turn the fizzing strut of "Galby" into an easy standout. It seems that Al Qadiri as Shaneera—at her boldest and most irreverent—is also Al Qadiri at her best.
A1 Shaneera feat. Bobo Secret & Lama3an
A2 Is2aleeha feat. Bobo Secret & Chaltham
A3 Alkahaf feat. Bobo Secret & Lama3an
B1 Spiral feat. Bobo Secret
B2 Galby feat. Naygow