Apologies for the prolonged silence, palace people. I packed up my life into storage and moved my family to the states for the summer and maybe longer. Recently I've been deepening my relationship with the music and autobiography of Miles Davis. Since Ish said "Miles, that's my idol" and Ish is my idol, the conclusions of my findings don't surprise me: If you want to understand Ishmael's music on any meaningful level, then you have to swim in the sea of not only the Last Poets, but also Miles. I'm ready to dive in. Miles Davis is cool as fuck...!
Syncretically, as so often happens, during this period a new interview with Palaceer Lazaro surfaced in which he mentions On The Corner as something epochal in his evolution. Check it out:
"Shabazz Palaces: Never mind the past or the future" by Adam Hicks for Freq Magazine
When Digable Planets emerged in the early '90s, many people’s definitions of hip hop were shattered. Sure, the Native Tongues movement was already beginning to be noticed worldwide, but this was decidedly different. The same people who labeled De La Souls “hip hop hippies” likely called Digable hip hop beatniks, but, in both cases, the labels would be much too vast of a generalization. The common description of their music was reminiscent of poetry and smoky jazz lounges, but their fingers were on the pulse of something much bigger.
Much like Digable Planets changed the landscape of hip hop’s golden era, former frontman Ishmael Butler recently re-emerged to challenge our view of contemporary rap. Now known as Palaceer Lazaro, he leads the Seattle-based outfit, Shabazz Palaces. Achieving what the vast majority of golden-era rappers have fallen short of, Shabazz Palaces remain relevant and belong to the cutting-edge community of modern artists, such as Flying Lotus and El-P. Their glitchy beats and cryptic lyrics may be the basis for some people’s descriptions. But after briefly chatting with Butler, it is clear that the band likely hopes no two people describe their music the same. Or describe it at all for that matter.
Freq: Ishmael, from Digable Planets, to Cherrywine, to Shabazz Palaces, you can always be described as cosmically in tune, or at least seem that way. Can you sum this up into words?
Ishmael Butler: All of these ideas are given to me.
Freq: What are some of your influences inside and outside of hip hop music?
IB: Inside and outside hip hop, O am influenced by the hidden motions in the rhythms, the felt things and Buki Akib and then Kerry James Marshall and Blackthoven.
Freq: Would it be safe to say your music delves deep into both the past and future?
IB: It is unsafe to say things for certain, but say this: at our best we are delving into the moment with the past and future never minded.
Freq: Do you feel that hip hop music has any voids that you are filling?
IB: No hip hop is always and all ways filling voids in me.
Freq: If there are a couple quintessential jazz albums that our readers should check out to help the uninitiated listener understand your music better, what are they and why?
IB: Well, not to understand my music — my music is to be liked, not really understood. I don't claim to understand it, but these records will help you understand the world and some you as well: On the Corner, by Miles Davis and Make it Last Forever, by Keith Sweat.
Freq: Why is it important for people to have an open mind towards music?
IB: It’s not important, but it is very fun and exciting.
Freq: You guys have a very creative live set. How did it evolve into being?
IB: We were trying to get girls' attention.
Freq: Why is it important for hip hop artists to bring such creativity to shows?
IB: It’s not. It’s just fun as fuck.
Freq: Are there any other contemporary artists that you would recommend your
fans check out?
IB: Lil B, and THEE Satisfaction.
Freq: Why is it important to challenge your listeners?
IB: It’s not, it’s important to try hard to refresh your instinct when you do IT.
Catch Shabazz Palaces at Hi-Fi Club on June 21st and Olympic Oval on June 23rd