Shabazz Palaces – Black Up album review

Shabazz Palaces have released their first, 10-song EP with Sub Pop records on June 28th, entitled Black Up. Black up features electronic flavors and mesmerizing looping beats.

Shabazz Palaces gets an A for originality. Their overall sound is a mix of genres and it is far from the mainstream rap and hip-hop of today, but I could see this new wave, electro type of hip-hop catching on with the popular masses.

Ishmael Butler, the group’s leader, keeps the songs meaningful and true with his honest and storyteller-like rhymes. He makes each song feel like a different poetic experience throughout this promising rapper’s life.

There is almost no information about the group listed online for fans other than tour dates, contact info and a shop to buy their music. Shabazz Palaces has a great idea there that they should continue to run with because of how non-traditional it is to popular music today. Usually in today’s music, the artist’s look and image are generally what makes or breaks them but Shabazz Palaces’ leader Ishmael Butler has said in interviews and in his music, that he doesn’t want any comparisons or distractions and would rather have the music speaking for itself.

The album starts on a good note with “Free Press And Curl”. The electronic sound makes it a club ready song with hooky lyrics like “I run on feelings, f**k your facts”, “catchy, yes but trendy, no” and “I ain’t show off, I just showed up, greet my peoples, fill they cup.” The outro to Free Press And Curl turns into another song with an almost R&B feel to it.

Later in the album, the song called “Yeah You” features much less electronics and a simple hi-hat rhythm is the main instrumental that carries on throughout the song. Yeah You serves as proof that Ishmael can really rap and doesn’t rely on the beat to make the song. In the song he raps about the haters and critics that he is facing by simply calling them, corny in the choruses.

With no image of the artist, Black Up is serving it’s propose to remove the emphasis on looks and style in music and focus on the talent. Ishmael Butler is truly talented and without ever seeing a picture of him, I have a pretty good idea of who he sees himself as.

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