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Black Up
Shabazz Palaces Black Up
Released 24 June 2011
Producer Knife Knights.plcrs
Label Sub Pop
Length 36:01
Genre Hip hop
Website shabazzpalaces.com

Shabazz Palaces the first Hip Hop signee to Seattle Grunge and latter day Indie Entrepreneur Label Sup Pop release their second album to an appropriate amount of applause and probably a certain amount of trepidation.

Trepidation, because it's difficult music in a very real sense from Planet Digables graduate Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler. Everything in Black Up is swathed in mystery from the participants (Shabazz Palaces is tipped as a collective) to the song titles which have little thematic bearing on the songs. With an album unafraid of exploring genre amidst droning sonic chasms, fuzzy reverb and spacey drums, now named Palaceer Lazaro, the Grammy Winner takes an iconoclastic swoop at everything we traditionally consider to be hip-hop.

In fact Shabazz Palaces may have more hipster and less hop, R&B choruses spark up on occasion in a manner almost ironic or teasing, twisting songs electronically inside existing hip-hop structures but taking them for a fumble down dark ambient alleyways. The digitally manipulated vocals fight with, subside alongside, and shimmy around samples and synths sometimes making for a sound like a more echoing Portishead sans Beth Gibbons and at others like a muted companion to the Erykah Badu featured parts of Common's 2002 album Electric Circus.

Black Up makes for a rewarding album that calls out the 'corniness' in a lot of contemporary hip-hop, bringing it in an unexpected often cryptic direction that avoids cliché and sounds fresh and exciting to the ear.

- Cormac O’Brien