‘Black Up’ by Shabazz Palaces

Black Up by Shabazz Palaces

When Belhaven Meridian dropped in 2009, nobody knew much about Shabazz Palaces outside of the few shows he played in Seattle. The neurotic, allegorical video above is an enchanting, visual ride through Watts, Los Angeles. In the style of 70’s neorealism, this short vignette seems to add another chapter to the recently rereleased classic, Killer of Sheep, a film whose claim to fame is its aimless, wandering focus that emulates the life of the subjects it follows in the late 70’s ghetto. And right when the video feels understood, the lyrics hit with weight when you least expect it: “You see I’m just like you, you know I’m a mess. Take a minute to think, take an hour to dress.”

Former Digable Planets MC Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler has taken his moniker of Palacer Lazaro to his new project, Shabazz Palaces. The 35 minute album encapsulates the spiritual evolution of urban music. The last line of the whole album, “Still it morphs, this shit is way too advanced” is a mystical nod to the new world of music production that has twisted and shape-shifted its way past the days of two turntables and a microphone. Sub Pop snagging this record is coup more successful than Libya: The experimental, off the wall nature of the album fits in with recent releases on Anticon and Brainfeeder. Butterfly’s shamanistic incantations over pulsing beats drive the album into rarified hoodoo of Dudley Perkins/Declaime and Kool Keith’s best works.

Already an early candidate for the top 10 albums of the year, grab it before your neighbor does.


July 6, 2011