It was recently brought to my attention that some folks have yet to hear about my boys, Shabazz Palaces. I find this unbelievable.
Not only was their debut LP, ‘Black Up’ my favorite record of 2011, but it has gone on to become one of my all time favorites. From front to back ‘Black Up’ delivers a unique hip-hop sound that can’t be found anywhere else. The Seattle based rap duo combines spacey beats and rhythms with precise intelligent flows to create an atmosphere of impending, creeping, city-street darkness. Lead man Ishmael ‘Palaceer’ Butler, raps from the shadows, taking a removed, background approach. Off ‘Youlogy’:
‘The nights are getting stronger and the days are getting longer
The buildings getting bigger
Outside is getting smaller
The lies are getting truer and the truth is getting brighter
Things are looking blacker
But black is looking whiter’
Butler weaves bits of wisdom and aged-vet swagger with fresh beats and eclectic sound scape. Hear bits of jazz, Mo-Town and soul sprinkled throughout by multi-instrumentalist ‘Baba’ Maraire, each sound making itself essential to the track. Shabazz Palaces is a group driven by progression, not popularity. These songs are not built around one repetitive hook or some annoying chorus. These tracks flow, bleeding into each other, becoming part of the greater whole. ‘Black Up’ is a sinister cloud that absorbs and encompasses you more and more with each rewarding spin. This album has been thoroughly scratched into my soul, so it’s no wonder that it has become my go-to late-night-shouldn’t-be-driving-but-have-to listen. Perfect for a Friday the 13th weekend.
I have attached a full stream of the album below, but urge anyone into hip-hop to go check these guys out further. Catch a show, buy their album. You will not be disappointed.