A Shamir post is overdue, and I wish I were writing about Ratchet under different circumstances. The whole album is excellent — wildly impressive for a debut full-length by someone so young — but one of his songs feels especially relevant after the events of the last few days.
“Darker” stuck out to me when I first heard the album, because the depth of its message felt just as ahead of schedule as the overall musical quality of Ratchet. He sounds like an old soul during the chorus, singing “It doesn’t get darker unless you expect it to,” and while you could argue that some bad things will happen regardless of expectations, there’s a much-needed lesson here about the danger of self-fulfilling prophecies. Racism is one — the more you open yourself up to hate, the more you’ll find to project that hate onto. This is the cycle our country can’t seem to find its way out of. I used to believe that racism was progressively dying off with older generations, but it’s feeling more and more like active intervention is needed. That racist joke you hear needs to be called out. The Confederate flag on South Carolina’s statehouse grounds needs to come down. Sons, daughters, nieces and nephews need a “where babies come from”-level sit down talk about how to confront intolerance, and moms, dads, uncles and aunts need to back it up with behavior that’s consistent with what they’ve said.
Shamir starts “Darker” by saying “We’re just shells,” and while I think he’s partly talking about the physical impermanence of being human, I’d like to think he’s also saying that we’re given a blank slate at birth. That’s a good thing. He also says “The love we leave is our legacy.” I like that too. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure the legacy I leave for my daughter is a loving one, and I hope that these nine deaths result in many, many more micro and macro interventions, so that the awful cycle we’re in can be broken.