Shabazz Palaces, “Lese Majesty”

Shabazz-Palaces_Lese-MajestyShabazz Palaces
Lese Majesty
SUB POP
8/10

Like Zora Neale Hurston floating existentialist word-jazz over elastic skronk from Sun Ra’s Arkestra, the newest album from Ishmael Butler (Butterfly, of Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire is far more scintillatingly experimental than its predecessor, Black Up. More of a hip-hopera executed by robots than a conventional set of rap songs and jeepy beats, Shabazz Palaces’ self-described “sonic mythmap of new black wave and ghetto psychedelics” floats texturally through queerly angled blues (“They Come in Gold,” part of Suite One) and eerie cosmic soul (Suite Two’s “Noetic Noiromantics”) before landing upon the sheer funk interplanetary freak-out of Suite Seven: “Murkings on the Oxblood Starway.” While Butler sing-speaks his solitary brand of post-Beat, pre–Wu Tang poetry (“Keep it do or die and always think in terms of I / Reverie, some legend futures past / Revelry, instead for it renders hella fast”), Maraire’s elongated melodies never lose their sense of urgent contagion.

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