There are three particular qualities that stand out when speaking to Shaneil Muir: gratitude, genuineness and grace. Between her laughs and life stories lie reflections of the people who’ve supported her musical journey, most recently Tanesha ‘Shorty’ Johnson, who produced her newest release, Loyal, with Vybz Kartel.
“It was an honour working with Vybz Kartel and Shorty because mi grow up listening to his music so to know that we could collaborate on a track was amazing, and Shorty made it possible, and I’m very grateful for that,” Florida-based Muir told BUZZ.
The collaboration has been highly-anticipated since Johnson teased new music with Muir on her Short Boss Muzik label this summer.
“A lot of people love the versatility, my voice, and the song itself which they find refreshing so it’s been a lot of positive feedback.”
These comments easily mirror Muir’s catalogue, especially her breakout hit Yamabella, which has changed her career since its June release. But before this Top Gyal became the talk of the town, she was working the graveyard shift as a night auditor at Hilton. In an unimaginable plot twist, the world was plunged into a COVID-19 lockdown, Muir was laid-off, and Instagram became the new hang-out spot.
“I got laid-off on March 15, and by that weekend I was going live for three nights,” she said. “I realised it was fun, so I started doing it for five nights each week for hours based on popular demand. It was time-consuming and tiring, but at the end of the day, it was worth it. I had to learn how to conquer the whole live thing where you could have 22 people watching and still entertain them consistently. The more they share the content, everybody starts to watch to see what’s going on. When the viewers started rising, I had more people to entertain and more people to remain consistent with so it can be very hard to sit in front of your phone and entertain people for hours. But once you’re having fun with it, and it’s something you love, it becomes easy.”
It was on her Instagram live where she premiered Yamabella, produced by longtime collaborator Papi Don Muziq and Top Braff Entertainment. Thanks to the advent of screen recording (and dope lyrics about living in one’s truth instead of yielding to societal pressures), the song went viral.
Two months later, the single is climbing beyond two million YouTube streams and continues to engender opportunities, including a recording deal with Good Good Productions. Muir’s history with the label started in 2016 when she recorded her first single, Proud Side Chick, after being eliminated from the defunct Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall contest.
“The support has maximised and the love has peaked with everybody listening to me now. There’s a higher demand for more music and more recognition. Even in the business aspect the streams are going up, the views are going up, and it’s overwhelming but in a wonderful way.”
Though the Montego Bay-native migrated in 2016, she said she is maintaining her local fanbase by remaining authentic and serving up good music.
“We have some upcoming projects including a collab with my label mate Denyque on the Liquid Sunshine rhythm, produced by Good Good Productions,” she said. “Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Shenseea and some other great artistes are on the rhythm too. We just want to put the music out there, give the audience some visuals, and in the instance that we may not be able to grace a lot of stages, I just wanna see my supporters tune in to the music and know that they can still enjoy what music brings even in a pandemic.”