18 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Avant-hip-hoppers Shabazz Palaces finally let it be known that they're the master duo of former Digable Planets member Butterfly (now known as Palaceer Lazaro) and instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire. After the critical success of their debut, Black Up, it’s likely the follow-up, Lese Majesty, will draw even more critical and commercial interest. The sounds themselves are low-key, letting the various instrumental patches respond to one another or enhance the atmospherics. Maraire excels at minimalism and texture, creating a complete track with the least amount of ingredients and thriving on providing seamless interludes. Lazaro provides a variety of vocals that shift from philosophical quips to word-associated ramblings where seriousness and clever thinking often work together. “Dawn in Luxor,” “Forerunner Foray,” and “They Come in Gold” form an intense opening trilogy, while “Motion Sickness,” “New Black Wave,” and “Sonic MythMap for the Trip Back” close the album with a similar focus.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Avant-hip-hoppers Shabazz Palaces finally let it be known that they're the master duo of former Digable Planets member Butterfly (now known as Palaceer Lazaro) and instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire. After the critical success of their debut, Black Up, it’s likely the follow-up, Lese Majesty, will draw even more critical and commercial interest. The sounds themselves are low-key, letting the various instrumental patches respond to one another or enhance the atmospherics. Maraire excels at minimalism and texture, creating a complete track with the least amount of ingredients and thriving on providing seamless interludes. Lazaro provides a variety of vocals that shift from philosophical quips to word-associated ramblings where seriousness and clever thinking often work together. “Dawn in Luxor,” “Forerunner Foray,” and “They Come in Gold” form an intense opening trilogy, while “Motion Sickness,” “New Black Wave,” and “Sonic MythMap for the Trip Back” close the album with a similar focus.

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About Shabazz Palaces

The first hip-hop crew signed to the Sub Pop label, Shabazz Palaces is the brainchild of Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, although the Digable Planets member wasn’t so quick to admit it. In 2009, Shabazz Palaces released two EPs -- one self-titled, the other titled Of Light -- but Butler's name didn't appear on either. No promo shots, no social networking sites, no interviews, and no press releases were issued by the enigmatic, Seattle-based project, but that didn't stop the local press from throwing praise at these EPs, which hit much harder than Digable while retaining that forward-thinking wordplay. The EPs became favorites at the Sub Pop offices, too, and in 2010, the usually indie rock label signed the project, releasing their debut album, Black Up, in 2011. Next, it transpired that Tendai Maraire -- son of the famous mbira player Dumisani Maraire -- was responsible for most of the instrumentation on that record and that Shabazz Palaces was, in effect, a duo.

Both Butler and Maraire were relatively quiet in the ensuing years, but found time to make a guest appearance on AwE NaturalE, the 2012 debut by fellow Seattle alternative hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction. The pair also teamed up with Hussein Kalonji to create the March 2014 album riZe vadZimu riZe under the Chimurenga Renaissance moniker, before they returned that same year with a second Shabazz Palaces studio album, Lese Majesty. Three years later, in 2017, they returned with two further albums, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines; both albums chronicled the journey of Quazarz, a celestial being trying to navigate the harsh reality of life on Earth. ~ David Jeffries & James Wilkinson

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