There are few things better in this life than a beat that really knocks. I mean the kind of beat that doesn’t just make you nod your head but makes you rock your whole body as well. The kind of beat that leaves you jerkin your shoulders in your office chair in that kind of awkward, jolting way. That’s exactly what I’m doing at my desk right now, and that’s exactly the kind of beat that London via Sweden newcomer Shaqdi has crafted on new single ‘Better’.
Premiering on Notion today, ‘Better’ opens simply enough with a question, ‘Am I better like this?’ Posed in Shaqdi’s ever so slightly husky voice, raised-eyebrow and intimate setting heavily implied, it sets the tone of the track in the space of a second. One second later and the instrumental kicks in with a chest-pounding thump of drums and a scorching wail of guitar, peeling back ever so slightly as Shaqdi’s voice comes back in. Within the first five seconds of the track, she’s got you hooked, the beat and breathy vocal working in perfect unison.
On the surface level, ‘Better’ is a late-night seduction of a song. However, as the song reaches its second act, Shaqdi’s seemingly seductive questions become mocking and defiant, a new confidence creeping into her voice as she asks ‘Am I better like this? If I had nothing to say/ If I acted real dumb / am I better this way?’ It’s a subtle and slow subversion of the male gaze within music and the signifiers buried within her own instrumental, using the trappings of R&B to flip the listener’s perceived narrative on its head. It turns out there a few things better than a beat that knocks, and Shaqdi’s new single is one of them. Listen to ‘Better’ below.
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