Since their low-key arrival just over five years ago, Shabazz Palaces have trodden a decisively singular path towards the outer edges of a sound that seemed to have already emerged astonishingly fully-formed and unique.
Back in 2009, their prismatic brand of jazz-infused future hip-hop stood so deliberately apart from the rest of the modern rap canon that every time Ishmael Butler adopted his Palaceer Palaces
Lazaro moniker and teamed up with Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire the result was something dumbfoundingly new.Palaces
Indeed, their sounds were so disorientating in their freshness that Butler, an erstwhile
member of defunct NYC hip-hop group Diggable Planets,
went out of his way to remain unidentified, hoping that the duo’s
music would speak for itself untethered by his previous work.
He needn’t have worried. The cutting edge electronic sci-fi of 2011’s debut LP ‘Black Up’
followed two extraordinarily incongruous EPs that were produced – and embraced – before Butler’s cover was blown,
and the group were greeted with a gasp of critical approval, which preceded the deluge of question
marks over how a project of such youth could push the envelope with such relish and yet sound so deliberate and polished in its execution.
And so it should come as no surprise to followers of a pair who have always sought to disrupt that after a gestation period of nearly three years, Shabazz Palace’s
latest ornate offering not only weighs in at 18 tracks,
but is also carefully divided into no less than seven individually titled suites.
Described in its press release not as an album but rather a “sonic action,” ‘Lese Majesty’ is intended to dispel the myth that,
“sophistication and the instinctual are not at odds.”
In doing so, it stretches the format of a modern hip hop record to its limits, creating a weaving,
intricate journey of narrative and texture packed with a perfect balance of quirk and substance.
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