Days before the finale of Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 9, finalist Shea Couleé dropped a three-track EP titled Couleé-D. Visuals produced by Chicago’s own VAM Studio accompanied each track, all of which are—to quote the queen herself—damn near sinful.
The first track, “Ride,” features vocals that make my body melt. Couleé’s sultry chords over the laid back bass line gives off the same chill vibe as Rihanna’s “Same Ol’ Mistakes.” The video opens in a junkyard, and any RPDR fans will immediately recognise Couleé’s patchwork flannel cape that she wore down the runway in episode 11 for her Village People look. The melody picks up its pace during the instrumental section, which cues a clip of Couleé in an empty studio donning an all black ensemble I wish I was allowed to wear in my dance studio. The queen shows off her dance moves in a black bodice paired a mesh top completed with fishnet stockings and high heeled boots, giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “legs for days.”
Couleé’s dancing background gave the queen a leg up (pun intended) on the competition, as she slayed multiple challenges (like her Blac Chyna role and her “Category Is” solo in episode 11) with her dance prowess.
Couleé admitted in an interview that “Cocky” is her response to a contestant who, after her exit, started to badmouth the Chicago queen. This synth-heavy track almost reminded me of an updated version of the melody in Mama Ru Paul’s iconic “Supermodel (You Better Work).” The features on this track—Lila Star and The Vixen— also hail from Chicago, and they are making their city proud. In the black and white music video, all three girls are killing with their looks. The simplistic concept of having the three artists in a white box makes the audience focus on their sickening outfits and vocals. I love this track because watching Couleé throughout the competition, she was always modest in her wins and had a sense of humility about herself. “Cocky” allowed the queen to show off and own her talent.
The visuals in “Feeling So” made me feel like I was on some kind of cute, neon-lit acid trip throughout the streets of Chicago; Couleé even visited the infamous Smartbar Sunday night event, Queen!, in the video. This disco reminiscent track was inspired by the song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. The euphoria-induced vibe is influenced by “an amazing, drug-fueled night out on the town with that feeling that just keeps getting better and better,” says the queen. This is the perfect track for a never ending night.
Shea Couleé is not the first drag racer to pursue a career in music—just this year, Trixie Mattel released a folk album titled Two Birds. This six-track record taps into the comedy queen’s emotional side, which was surprising, but personal and genuine. The album made its way up the iTunes albums charts to number 2, which is a huge success for any artist. Season 5’s Detox has a successful music career as well: last year she released her directorial debut with a music video for “Supersonic,” which was also filmed at Queen! Sundays at SmartBar Chicago. Couleé is in good company with successful RPDR alumni and she is wasting no time to pave her path; the queen recently tweeted about hitting up the recording studio with Azealia Banks.
Keep up with the Chicago powerhouse on Twitter.