Shabazz Palaces have rapidly gained fame and adoration for making some of the most inventive and alien-sounding hip-hop in recent memory, but the Seattle rap outfit didn't come out of nowhere. In fact, the group's MC and central figure Ishmael Butler has been in the game for nearly two decades, first catching listeners' attention as a member of celebrated alt-hip-hop pioneers Digable Planets in the '90s.
Starting with a pair of self-released EPs in 2009, the duo have carved out their own wholly unique sonic space, incorporating Butler's spacy, impressionistic lyricism and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire's ingenious textures and rhythms, which owe as much to the traditional African music as to the strangest corners of contemporary electronica. Futuristic Seattle neo-soul duo THEESatisfaction are frequent collaborators, adding haunted, gorgeous R&B melodies and harmonies to the mix. This unique combination helped win the band's 2011 LP Black Up widespread critical adoration and a sterling reputation among fans of left-field hip-hop.
Now touring the U.S., the band stopped by The Current to chat with Jade and play a few songs.
Songs played: "Bad," "An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum" and "Recollection Of The Wraith."
- Shabazz Palaces