Shabazz Palaces at Lincoln Hall | Concert Preview
With atmospheric echoes of jazz, dubstep and L.A.’s experimental acid hip-hop scene, Shabazz Palaces is heady, elusive stuff.
Since the peak of its commercial and financial power in the early ’90s, Sub Pop has ballsily branched out into everything from folk to sophisticated electro-pop. In recent years, the grunge-era-defining label has retrenched as guitar-centric once again, but the Seattle brand still throws the occasional curveball. Case in point: its first foray into rap, the enigmatic Shabazz Palaces. The project of former Digable Planets MC Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, now known as Palaceer Lazaro, wanders light-years away from his mellow cocktail-lounge cool of old on the dark new Black Up. It’s hardly run-of-the-mill stuff, full of brave sonic tripwires that prove Butler’s out to earn respect rather than arrogantly declare it outright.
With atmospheric echoes of jazz, dubstep and L.A.’s experimental acid hip-hop scene, the cold and spacy tracks are heady, elusive stuff, with whispered lyrics often obscured behind a bramble of electronics and egghead titles like “A treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer).” But like a good boxer, Butler knows when to lean in and connect, which he and the group often do with startling originality.
Here’s a chance for Shabazz to emerge from the shadows. The group opens for Moonface, the loopy next step from new-band-happy Spencer Krug, erstwhile singer of Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake.