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.