August 22, 2011

Shabazz Palaces – Black Up Review

When Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler of Brooklyn, New York, worked as part of the jazz hip-hop trio, Digable Planets, their easy-going alternative rap rocked the 90’s, when hip-hop was still in its early stages and growing in popularity. Now more than a decade later, Butterfly is back with a new name, and a new group, pushing a sound that burns a new chapter into the history of hip-hop. Based out of Seattle, Butterfly, newly dubbed as Palaceer Lazaro, heads Shabazz Palaces. Many excited fans were already buzzing from the release of Shabazz’s first two self-released EPs, Of Light and a self-titled EP. If these two releases meant anything in the world of hip-hop, it was a sure sign of something else entirely. Come summer 2011 and Shabazz Palaces releases their first full-length, Black Up, a collection of spaced out beats that build up and dissolve several times over for each track, leaving listeners entranced by the album’s mystifying and near-flawless production. Boasting a record full of sounds that make no compromises for accessibility, Black Up contains no discernible radio singles. The last time a hip-hop record so blatantly left listeners to do most of the work was 2004’s hip-hop album, Madvillainy, now arguably one of the greatest hip-hop releases of the decade. Now it can certainly be a risk to leave a record absent of any standout hits, but with Shabazz Palaces, this is clearly not the case. Black Up transforms every couple minutes, and Palaceer Lazaro has a way to make it work in the best way possible. Only time will tell how well this record will be received, but perhaps time will catch up with the sound that is contained on this newly released LP. For now, Shabazz Palaces own a sound that hip-hop has never really heard before. Check out their new record to hear for yourself the future of hip-hop, and always support the artist. Buy their records, see their shows.

Rating: 8.9/10

Recommended Tracks: Are You... Can You... Were You? (Felt), Youlogy, Yeah You