Shabazz Palaces – Black Up (Sub Pop)
July 15, 2011 by Daniel Gill
It’s interesting to hear a hip hop album nowadays which avoids all cliché’s of how the genre is
represented, ‘Black Up’ is one of these rare hip hop albums that does such a thing. Experimentation within hip hop music is only ever noticed if the mainstream artists do it, just look at Kanye West and Tyler, the Creator. They have both had success with recent albums which break the mould showing listeners a different side to their music. Thankfully a less mainstream new hip hop collective known as Shabazz Palaces have carried on with that direction and have provided us with a gem of an album as well.
This is Sub Pop Records first ever hip hop release and after listening to the opening tracks from thealbum, you understand why they snatched Shabazz Palaces up. The production on the album is suited to more of an indie hip hop release sounding more like a Cannibal Ox or Company Flow
album, its full of futuristic synths, obscure samples and psychedelic electronica beats which are all the time changing to the point where you don’t know if a new song has started or not? Adding to this are the peculiar track titles, ‘An Echo from the Hosts that Profess Infinitum’ and ‘The Kings New Clothes were Made by His Own Hands’. These are a just a couple of the song titles that add to the weirdness of the album. It states that Shabazz Palaces mission is to sound like no other rap collective out there.
They complete their mission with ease. From start to finish there is something different about each track, and they are never constructed in typical verse-chorus-verse-chrous fashion. Opening song ‘Free Press and Curl’ is the most danceable number on the release, with its upbeat tempo and sci-fi pads robotising the song. It then suddenly mellow outs after three minutes and evolves into a laid back outro with Ishmael Butler slowing down his raps, completely changing the energy of it.
Trying to over analyse and figure out ‘Black Up’ would be waste of time, its best to appreciate it as a unique hip hop album which is good enough to rival the strongest releases from Definitive Jux. Like Butler says in his opening verse ‘Don’t compare my beat with his’. There has never been a more truer statement as Shabazz Palaces are incomparable in 2011′s hip hop scene.