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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 69.0° F  Fair
The Daily


Shabazz Palaces: Black Up
(Sub Pop)

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Swathed in secrecy, plus a headscarf and sunglasses, Shabazz Palaces leader Palaceer Lazaro -- a.k.a. former Digable Planets MC Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler -- wasn't letting on anything about the group's identity a few months ago. A few more details have leaked out since the project's first LP, Black Up, dropped recently, but the mystical aura persists. However, the real story is the music, not the who's-behind-the-curtain hoopla.

This is an album that transitions seamlessly from haunting anthems of dark futurism ("Free Press and Curl") to declarations of rage ("Yeah You") and spacey love odes ("Recollections of the Wraith"). The beats crack and sizzle like sonic eggs on "Endeavors for Never" as a sultry alto from the female vocal group THEEsatisfaction provides a jazzy meditation. Just when you think you've figured it out, Lazaro throws down an incredibly funky electronic groove, like that of the album closer. The track's full name is 11 words long, but the music is tight as can be, blending metallic synths with heavenly rapping and robotic heartbeats.

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