Lese Majesty

Few rap crews are as far-out as Seattle's Shabazz Palaces, whose 2011 breakthrough LP, Black Up, cloaked deep verses and sneaky pop sense beneath plenty of weirdness, with beats and rhymes that sounded like they'd been fed through a fish-tank aerator. On their second LP, ex-Digable Planets MC Ishmael Butler builds even grander spaces to space out in. "Huey beats and Malcolm flow/Intimacies I doubt you know," he posits on "Ishmael," part of a keystone suite that flashes back to the Afrocentric Nineties hip-hop Butler was schooled in. But his dazzling feel for 21st-century psychedelia pushes this well past nostalgia tripping – and while the verbal abstraction gets thick, there's serious pleasure in plumbing it.

 

From The Archives Issue 1214: July 31, 2014