New Video By Sheldon Universe “Poor Boy”

In the final verse of his latest single, Sheldon Universe makes a noteworthy confession. Even if he had a million dollars, he tells us, he’d still be the “Poor Boy.” It’s a statement of frustration and an acknowledgment of the brutal difficulty of social mobility. It’s also a bit of a boast. The Toronto-based Goan-Canadian pop singer is telling listeners that no matter what happens to him, he’ll retain the qualities associated with poor kids: humility, persistence, drive, and an unquenchable thirst for achievement.

All that ambition comes through brilliantly in the wildly catchy, passionately performed, stubbornly unique “Poor Boy” — a summer anthem for a season spent on the grind and an electropop anthem with the soul of the blues. In two tight verses and one indelible chorus, Sheldon Universe has given us a character sketch with terrestrial concerns and cosmic implications. The narrator looks longingly at the houses of the rich and wonders how the inhabitants got their money; he sings about his dedication to music and his past life as a hardworking percussionist; he pledges his fidelity to a girl who, he believes, deserves more than he can give. The implication is clear: if a man this talented can’t get ahead, what hope do the rest of us have?

He’s exaggerating a little. Though he sings, “I should have made it by now,” Sheldon Universe has plenty to crow about. He’s worked extensively with the internationally popular Indian-Canadian pop singer and rapper AP Dhillon, performed with Manic Drive, and served as the drummer for the Toronto Raptors. His production company has become a staple of the music scene north of the border, where he’s been the driving force behind shows and festivals of all kinds. He just hasn’t had a massive hit yet, but that’s likely to change at any moment.

Marco Veltri’s bright, energetic, and offbeat clip for “Poor Boy” makes the star’s hunger for achievement manifest through a gripping visual metaphor. The director shoots Sheldon Universe alongside the trappings of wealth: mansions, expensive cars, and beautiful women. But the soul of the clip is a gently choreographed sequence performed by four dancers wearing mask replicas of Sheldon Universe’s face. They’re otherwise quite distinct — four men with different body types in casual business dress. The effect is intentionally destabilizing and calls into question the flimsiness of identity in the corporate world. It’s a commentary on the masks we all must wear to climb the ladder and a visual expression of the singer’s lament about getting “lost in the crowd.” He’s determined to stand out. Don’t bet against him.

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