Every other week, Beats & Rhymes highlights a new and notable hip-hop, rap, DJ, or electronic record that embraces independent sensibilities.
Shabazz Palaces: “An Echo From The Hosts That Process Infinitum”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Shabazz_Palaces_An_Echo.mp3|titles=Shabazz Palaces: “An Echo from the Hosts that Profess Infinitum”]
Don’t bother looking up Shabazz Palaces on Google. Its official website is almost bereft of information, promotional photos are nonexistent, and interviews are scarce. In an Internet age when stars can be made through YouTube views, Shabazz Palaces seems to have gamed the system; its heavy blog buzz is, ironically, at least partially due to its spare Web presence.
Shabazz Palaces ringleader Palaceer Lazaro isn’t a new player on the hip-hop scene, however. He is better known as Ishmael Butler, who is, in turn, better known as Butterfly of Digable Planets. But don’t expect to hear smooth, jazz-infused rap, like Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That),” from Lazaro’s new outfit, Shabazz Palaces. After two acclaimed EPs, the band is poised to release its first full-length, Black Up, a discordant rap album if ever there was one.
The opener, “Free Press and Curl,” assaults the listener with relentlessly repetitive bass blasts. Melodic flourishes arise occasionally, but mostly the production is nothing but bursts of low-end buzz. Make no mistake: Black Up is a record that rewards listeners who have invested in quality woofers. Lazaro’s rapping is mixed low, making it difficult to decipher exactly what he’s saying, and his flow and the rhythm of the production don’t seem to sync up. It all makes for a thoroughly dissonant experience, exactly the kind that Shabazz Palaces wants the listener to have.