Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's new home for exclusive music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Abir is a 23-year-old musician on a broad mission. But, in the music video for her song "Way Out," Abir is on a pretty narrow mission: She's chasing herself through the streets of New York. A version of Abir (who is mononymous) dressed in metallic pants dashes through the city while another version — this one clad in denim — follows. The video is like a lot of gritty New York City music videos. Abir dances in a laundromat, rides in a cab, and sprints up a rickety NYC stairwell. The trick here, though, is that this isn't mindless wandering or an ode to the city's nightlife.
"I feel like being around just the area and living in New York City, I feel like I'm always going," Abir tells me over the phone. She's not a native New Yorker, but she reads like one. Abir was born in Morocco and moved to New York City from Virginia three years ago. Her music and her manner (she pronounces "Manhattan" without the dental "T" like a native New Yorker) tell a different story, though. She wrote her 2016 single "Girls" about the bathroom in Webster Hall, a hip downtown music venue, and she has an appreciation for the ways the city makes you work to earn its love.
For the "Way Out" video, she and director Johnny Valencia (Mackelmore's "Marmalade") traversed the city, from uptown Manhattan all the way to Coney Island. (Abir admits that they did not make it to Queens, where Abir lived for years.) It's a visual nod to Abir's own journey and her three years of traversing this city lend her the credo to find a "way out," as the song says.
"It's kind of like, 'I've got everything I need, because I've been literally working up and down this city to get into events, to get into shows,'" she explains. "I've done all my work because I've literally walked every corner, every street of New York. I think it's just — I'm always inspired. Every day, you see something new, or you learn something new in New York."
She's almost done with New York, is the thing. She recently escaped to California to perform at Coachella with the electronic music group Cash Cash. They recently collaborated on the track "Finest Hour." Abir also featured on Macklemore's recent album in the song "Zara." "Way Out," in a way, is Abir's pledge to find a way up the industry ladder.
"The first line of the song is "they ask me what I want, I tell 'em what I got.'..it's a humble way of saying: I already have what I need because I've worked hard for it," she tells me. She has more faith in New York City than I do: "In New York City, if you're a kind person and you're out there, working hard, people will notice."
Watch the full music video for "Way Out," below.