You may be familiar with the catch phrase “Cool Like Dat” coined by the iconic Digable Planets. Over the years, lead emcee Butterfly (nee Ishmael Butler) has found several ways to reinvent himself (Cherrywine, Shabazz Palaces) to cultural relevance, whether it be under mainstream obscurity/anonymity. Become familiar with both the new and old and even futuristic iterations of the the Black experience as visited by Shabazz Palaces. Ishmael and Tendai (Maraire) Black Up for the world to examine in a fresh light.
The music of Shabazz Palaces could be said to signal a paradigm shift, if there existed the possibility that anyone or anything could conceptualize a suitable, derivative response. Nary an article has been written about the group that spares the term “futuristic,” but I would argue that time, in a linear sense, becomes an unsuitable quantifier. Lazier librarians might simply place an asterisk next to Shabazz Palaces in the rap annals, but a more principled cartographer might consider them a near-mythical landmass, like Easter Island, or possibly Atlantis. The dark matter that envelops their catalog recalls, at any given time, chopped and screwed Folkways recordings, pocket-wise polyrhythm, Sun Ra paraphrasing Parliament, all the while leaving room for finger snaps and handclaps. This is not to say that Shabazz Palaces is an “eclectic blend” of anything and anything else, but rather their Afro-celestial output is rendered using less conventional ingredients.