Black Up

In the Nineties rap trio Digable Planets, Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler typified hip-hop as a bright fantasy of Brooklyn brownstone stoops and hippiejazz vibing. Reborn as Palaceer Lazaro in Shabazz Palaces, the rapper still waxes poetic with the old boho bounce as he lounges in the club or decries the evils of American culture. But the beats are, as he says, "new off the spaceship" – noirish sound clouds that sweep in anything from African thumb pianos to trash-compactor solos, and nearly make up for drugged-out song titles like "Endeavors for Never (The Last Time We Spoke You Said You Were Not Here. I Saw You Though.)."

Listen to Shabazz Palaces:

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From The Archives Issue 1138: September 1, 2011