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Shabazz Palaces: Black Up

Shabazz Palaces
Black Up
Sub Pop

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Shabazz Palaces front man and producer Ishmael Butler aka Palaceer Lazaro was once a member of ’90s jazz-hip hop trio Digable Planets. Now he’s taken alternative hip hop to a more experimental, left-field level, and for the better (I think).

Hailing from the land of Nirvana and Soundgarden, Butler and Black Up, his debut on the famed Sub Pop label, brings a variety of beats, sounds, and emotions that can confuse the most anal of music lovers. The lyrics conjure up space-age hip hop with a dash of poetic inspiration, but from a galaxy far, far away.

That being said, what makes Black Up work is that none of it seems contrived. The album is consistent, again, almost poetic in its vibe and production. It’s definitely not a club album; however, it takes a few listens to follow the beats, rhymes and energy of the project. I like to call it left-field with swag. Even so, if you’re still expecting a nostalgic Digable Planets vibe, don’t. Black Up is strictly experimental shit.

Recommended spins include, “Are you…Can you…Were you? (Felt)”, “Recollections of the Wraith”, “An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum,” and “Swerve.

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About ND McCray

ND McCray is a former Brooklynite, now St. Louis-based writer, penning pieces on arts, culture and other stuff.
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