I planned ahead on this gem and bought my ticket in August. I wasn't wrong: it was rad. Buy the album immediately and play this video LOUD, 'cos that sub bass is unforgiving:
Shabazz Palaces at White Heat, Madame Jojo’s
27 September 2010
Hooded and hidden behind shades, Palaceer Lazaro (or Ishmael ‘Butterfly’ Butler, formerly of 90s hip hop trio Digable Planets) commands his debut London performance as Shabazz Palaces, a show that’s sold out twice over judging by the jostling and jamming in White Heat’s basement. The Black Up LP came out on Sub Pop this summer to immediate acclaim as well as curiosity as the label’s only hip hop release to date, an anomaly partly explained by Butler’s roots in Seattle but perhaps also signalling some continuing degradation of genre boundaries for internet-dependent music fans.
Flanked by percussionist Tendai Maraire, who chips in on vocals and choreographed hand gestures, Butler backs his rhymes with raw, weighty bass, noodling mbira, jazz piano cut-ups and other freeform eclectica. Drenched in wet reverb, the lyrics are too often buried out of earshot, but 'Recollections of the Wraith’ (see video above) finds a sweet spot almost unexpectedly with its simple come-on (“Clear some space out, so we can space out”) and startling melismatic vocal sample, as a slow jam ripples through the crowded bodies. An uncompromising and electrifying taste of a musician at the top of his game, a full 17 years after winning his first Grammy.