Monday, May 17, 2010
I got my tickets for the London show on April 22nd a while ago. The day before Ish wrote me saying he put me on the guestlist +3 and asked if I could bring some newspapers in Arabic (!??) No problems of course all the tickets were put to good use and I brought my fiance, her friend, and my bros from London town (breakspears boys). We met the man himself in the venue about an hour before they went on stage. Just like in 2005, the legendary force behind some of the freshest music ever made was as affable, real, and charismatic as can be. We chatted for a while, can't remember it all but I did ask about his interest in learning Arabic. Butterfly responded with some feelings and sentiments hard to quote literally but I got the impression he had been blessed with apprehension of the role of the language as a means of transport. I asked whether his old album Ishmael Since 1999 would ever come out. Not only did he not have any copies of the songs any more but he also didn't know any one who had the album and asked if I knew anyone who did! He then confirmed another 'fear' of mine... a 2nd Cherrywine album had indeed been completed c.2005 and Ish similarly just let that recede into the past once Shabazz Palaces began to emerge. 'I've always been happy to just work on something and then let it go' is how he explained his admittedly healthy artistic attitude. Meanwhile us fans can only dream of unknown aural landscapes off-limits for the time being at least. He also mentioned how the tour van was broken into in Brussels and his laptop was stolen. That was a big shame since he had planned to perform SP songs on this tour. Tendai was supposed to come too but couldn't get his passport in time. We asked how he was enjoying London and he responded by expressing his like of the city: I missed him earlier in the day because he'd been out and managed to cover both the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern museums where he checked the exhibition by one of his favourite artists, Chris Ofili. My lady and I gave him a Yemeni mantle; it elated us to see him enrobed in it in his Norway MTV interview which is on vimeo (not really worth watching though... impressive how consistently, brilliantly mediocre MTV remains).
He dropped some hot crumbs of news about SP though: The next 2 albums are going to be released with a Shabazz Palaces feature-length film. There's more: it's being done in collaboration with Kahlil Joseph. And more: the man himself will be acting in it. You heard it here first.
It was good to see C-Know the Doodlebug too. He was on top form and full of good vibrations which he transmitted to the sold out crowd at the Jazz Cafe. I asked him if we'd ever hear some unreleased Digable b-sides and he responded that EMI had all the tapes so it was not beyond the limits of possibility. Anyway the show later that night was seismic. I think I heard some new rhymes that others won't hear until the new SP stuff drops. The band were decent, too: they are Cee-know's band and are all solid musicians. The drummer was particularly tasteful, and sounded supreme on 9th Wonder. You can hear the bassist and guitarist's side project here. Ish was on another level of intensity altogether, though. The crowd was feeling it and that seemed to take his performance to another plane. Afterwards, amidst the ruins on the dancefloor as a dazed crowd filtered out into the night the bassist opined that Ish is making the best stuff of his career at the moment. I could but nod, thankful to have witnessed thunder and lightning once again.