A review of the Shabazz Palaces album Lese Majesty.
Shabazz Palaces are the Seattle-based experimental Hip Hop group that largely consists of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire. Ishmael (Palaceer Lazaro) was also known for his previous act Digable Planets (he was Butterfly) that famously combined Jazz and Hip Hop on the 90s. Lese Majesty is their second full length album, following the innovative Black Up album in 2011. Both albums are on Sub Pop Records.
The opening minutes of the first song “Dawn in Luxor” start with a My Bloody Valentine-esque guitar sample -- the kind of droning, otherworldly sound that backs most MBV's Loveless album -- and kicks off the Shabazz Palaces album in a most surreal way. They're weaving hip hop, indie/alternative rock, a steady 4/4 rhythm and mysterious-sounding keyboards into a melancholy start.
It's a bold move when most artists try to capture our interest up front with "the single" or an outsized, upbeat, large track. Shabazz Palaces have the depth and confidence to pull it off though, and the album quickly moves into more solid footing on the second track “Forerunner Foray.”
The third track “They Come in Gold” is the single, and its quirky background vocal loop will seep into your mind and have you repeating it all day. It's infectious in the best way.
I've always dug how Shabazz Palaces defines their own sound in a really broad way. There's always a wealth of influences in their music, yet it always has this definable sound aesthetic that's distinctly Shabazz Palaces. Lese Majesty
is a fantastic album to explore your wildest musical indulgences.
Listen to a song by clicking on a title below: