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Albums of 2014 #7: Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty

If someday evidence is uncovered offering irrefutable proof that hip hop weirdos Shabazz Palaces were actually higher beings from an extraterrestrial civilization, sent back through time and space to bestow upon those humans clever enough to listen the wisdom to help them survive some unspecified forthcoming global catastrophe, it would not in all honesty come as a complete surprise. Listen to the sprawling, densely packed passages of bop poetry Ishmael “Palaceer Lazero” scattered over Lese Majesty and it’s not hard to picture the former Digable Planets MC in his mirror shades and armour-plated zebra-print shirt on the holodeck of some interplanetary craft serenely preaching the secrets of the universe to Earth’s expatriates whilst multi-instrumentalist partner Tendai Maraire cooked up a heady brew of sci-fi electro boogie in the background. For the most part, Butler’s lyrics felt like cryptic steps to enlightenment (even when playing the playa with his “syndicates of girlfriends” on “#CAKE” he did so in such a graceful manner as to make himself sound less like a sleaze than a scholar) and whilst there were obvious nods to previous Daisy Age dabblings – in the lush textures as well as the trippy hippy vibes – the overall effect was decidedly futuristic, with production that fused airy jazz and tech-savvy sonics to brain-bogglingly psychedelic effect. Tribal percussion collided with skittering processed beats, crooning soul divas chased chanting monks into African dance parties and doomy minimalist drones segued seamlessly into slinky lover-man R&B; even taking into account the late ‘90s/ early noughties avant-pop hybrids of Timbaland and the Neptunes, hip hop hadn’t sounded so much like an alien language since Public Enemy burst onto the scene in the ‘80s, and never had the idea of surrendering yourself to the mothership seemed so appealing.


About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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