As the first hip-hop group signed to indie-rock heavy-hitters Sup Pop, Shabazz Palaces brings a new psychedelic style to hip-hop. Free off all the bullshit, hype and wannabe pop infused crap, Shabazz Palaces’ debut album, Black Up totally tears away at traditional hip-hop vibes to reveal raw, edgy and chaotic rhymes laced over experimental, avant–garde and spazzed-out beats.
Odd…yes. Interesting…definitely. Everybody needs a bit of oddity in their lives and Black Up surely delivers that and more packaged in 10 tracks, thanks to the consciousness and talents of Palaceer Lazaro (aka Ishmael ‘Butterfly’ Butler from Digable Planets). While the songs are nonetheless fresh, the titles are just as interesting, reading like random thoughts placed on paper. But that only adds to Lazaro’s mysterious uniqueness. Where he gets his inspiration? Who knows, but his creativeness is surely appreciated.
Welcoming you to Shabazz Palaces’ world is “Free Press and Curl,” the album’s opening track. Mashed-up beats and spacey synths, talking about “catchy, yes, but trendy no,” sums up what the album is about. Lyrics like “don’t compare my beat with his” and “I’m free” provide further evidence that you’re in for some unexpected musical madness off the beaten track.
“A Treatease Dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)” is just as strange as its title. Laser-like beats that sound as if they should be in a video game paired with rambling raps feel as if you’re treading in the world of his inner mind.
“Endeavors for Never (The last time we spoke you said you were not here. I saw you though.)” is another of those rambling concoctions immersed with some jazzy excerpts, heavy percussion and some beautifully melodic female vocals that strangely blend well with random electro synths and even more off-beat drum sets. “Recollections of the Wraith” features more of a traditional hip-hop beat that’s steady female vocals; but his rhymes are slick, addictive and so descriptive. The lyrics, “Clear some space out so when can space out” will quickly cement itself in your head and become a Facebook status.
“Swerve… The Reeping of All that is Worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)” has the best lyrical phrase of the album that provides a perfect example of what type of music Black Up consists of: “dynamic-electro-magnetic-style-sensors.” You’ll have to listen to the entire album at least twice to fully understand what that means. In essence, Shabazz Palaces is interestingly majestic in the sense that it’s out of the ordinary, creating this extraordinary mystique of hip-hop from a parallel universe.
Words: Kristie Bertucci
Download a FREE track from Shabazz Palaces’ new album, Black Up below!