Ik merkte al eerder op (kijk maar) dat het werk van Shabazz Palaces meer is dan hip-hop. Het is misschien zelfs wel meer dan muziek. Black Up, hun debuut-album, kwam voor de zomer uit en wordt door heel veel mensen gezien als het beste album van 2011. Het grappige is dat iedereen er inspiratie van krijgt. Iedereen die Black Up hoort gaat er een lyrisch artikel over schrijven. Zelfs mensen die normaal niet naar hip-hop luisteren, en er al helemaal niet over schrijven. Een korte greep uit de euforische besprekingen:
Black Up is an album that daisy-chains the forgotten and often tired sounds of backpack rap, neo-soul, proto-hip hop and regenerates the forms into a radical cosmic treatise on culture, identity, metaphysics, and countless other feelings and impressions. It’s an unpretentious, unconfined hip hop album that illuminates its soul in a brilliant, spiritual fashion and pivots around one of Shabazz Palaces’ central themes: discovering who you are, then being who you are.
Jeremy D. Larson, van Consequence of Sound
Over the course of 10 tracks, Butler and his collaborators pair thoughtful, sharply composed rhymes with beats that recall the grimy, claustrophobic sound of early Wu-Tang Clan and Company Flow as well as the blissful, atmospheric instrumental hip-hop of DJ Shadow.
Matthew Perpetua, van Rolling Stone
They don’t make music you can dance to, though it facilitates nodding. The rhythm rarely gets much faster than a lope. “Black Up” is a lesson in forceful insolence. In one song, Butler repeats the verse, “It’s a feeling,” and that simple sentiment can help you navigate the somewhat disorganized symbols and sounds. One of the best songs, “kill white t” might lead you to believe Butler holds a dogmatic view of black empowerment, but the title and lyrics never line up—this low-pitched lurch is also a feeling. Indirection is Butler’s navigation system. Shabazz Palaces uses sonic fog and unusual mixing to obscure its charms not to dissuade listeners, but because it is committed to high-resolution disorientation. “Black Up” would once have been called a “headphones album”: it is rich and striated, made for the in-ear speaker.
Sasha Frere-Jones, van de New Yorker
Butler continues to eschew traditional verse-chorus structures in favor of tracks that unpredictably diverge and then pool into lone, evocative words or concise chants. And if some of Butler’s rhymes and sonics are breezier than before, his tracks still retain their moody, hard-thudding, and sometimes psychedelic atmospheres.
Beyond the “just do it” swooshing of these lines is a meatier paradox: that Butler uses a lyrical form to decry the limitations of words and exalt the meaningfulness of action. In Shabazz Palaces, Butler enacts the union of these opposites– words as action, action into words– and it’s no exaggeration to call this transmutation what it is: magic.
Eric Grandy, van Pitchfork
Shabazz mastermind Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler makes music that forms an entirely new context all its own, reaching out for us like the darkest arms protruding out of a house of mirrors, or a carnival of spooks. It sounds as if it’s walking with the help of a hundred different legs, splitting or pulling itself in the same number of directions, but always holding to a center point, or a pelvis. These are the thoughts of a genius or an amateur madman (or a madman who will never be successful, as there will always be too much intrigue and sanity in his madness) that fly out of Butler’s mouth like little spiderlings, throwing a thread of silk into the breeze that catches a wave and takes the insect to a new fate.