Saturday, August 24, 2013

lightning storm ~ moscow

please god let the first song be on the new album!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

korean + singaporean interviewz

an enjoyable conversation to hear. one of ish's frankest interviews i've yet heard. a great mind is one that forces you to reexamine all your preconceived ideas and that is what you get re: the interview/artist-as-marketer thing here:

interview with palaceer lazaro by groove korea

and then there's another, punchier little interview here offering few new revelations.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) force fed under standard Guantánamo Bay procedure

Go to Close Guantanamo to sign the petition and do your bit. Every little helps.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

video: an echo from the host that profess infinitum

new official video from french director Joris Grelet. yes the song came out over 2 years ago and the video is just being released. but for what other reason did shabazz come other than to smash all the rules and show us possibilities ad infinitum?

tune of the week

ish bloggin at gorilla vs bear!

this is fantabulous... a selection of his faves circa '94. nuff said.


east asia tour

wow... they just never stop touring. this one must be super exciting: singapore, china, vietnam, korea... then back home. it's cool how most western musicians only go to that part of the world to play japan, but nippon isn't even on the calendar.

they remain true the occult practise of not promoting their tours: these dates aren't on the official site, the fan-run facebook page or even songkick. i got em from a random pitchfork piece.

June 21 - Singapore @ Home Club
June 22 - Hanoi, Vietnam @ American Club
June 23 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam @ Cargo Bar
June 26 - Hong Kong, China @ Backstage Live
June 27 - Manila, China @ B-Side
June 28- Shanghai, China @ Yuyintang
June 29 - Beijing, China @ Yuyintag
July 2 - Busan, Korea @ Almost Famous
July 4 - Seoul, Korea @ Club Keu
July 13 - Seattle, WA @ Silver Jubilee
August 2 to 4 - Happy Valley, OR @ Pickathon Festival
August 9 - Olga, WA @ Doe Bay Fest

blowout comb vinyl reissue

one of earth's all-time greatest albums. new liner notes by larry mizell jr. free poster. and the album inlay card is done the proper way, i.e. reproduced on 4 sides on the inner record sleeves. my copy still hasn't arrived in the post but hopefully the product is of high quality. i'm bothered by the fact it doesn't appear to be on 180g (heavyweight) wax, and that the record isn't coloured vinyl (unless you're one of the label's subscribers in which case you get a tasty lavender-marbled wax, or if you were one of the first 150 to order in which case u got white wax). but little things like making sure the inner sleeves are printed on high quality card would be nice. when it was first released i got it on cd but a friend copped the vinyl and it was really well made, but the edition i bought a couple of years later was lacklustre, with poor quality pulpish card for the outer sleeve (which affected the colours, the black not being as vibrant as it should but rather a very dark grey, and really thin paper for the inner sleeves, which are already fraying and turning yellow. still, each edition has its own charm and i can't wait for mine to arrive. but take note for the 25th anniversary edition: we want 180g wax next time! also: the japan-only bonus track "three slims dynamite" should be included.

chase jarvis: 60 second portrait

how is a photographer going to expand the meaning of portrait in the video age? do it on video. add the extra dimension of time. i think that is his mother whom he shows us on his phone.

an ode to octavia part 12

by the black constellation (of which shabazz palaces are a major star cluster). directed by maikoyo alley-barnes.

sparkles is such a great song. so dark, sad, and nocturnal...

Friday, May 24, 2013


i have to be honest. this didn't make much of an impression on me the first couple of times i heard it... *much*... yep it was just too much. i wasn't even bothered to post it. then i left it for a few days and gave it another listen, and another, and another, and now it's almost the only thing in my earphones. update: i think it's the best thing ish has done in years... i just don't know wtf to say... all that is clear is that this man has surrendered his soul to music to such a degree that he's been given access to sonic feelings that vibrate at absurdly high spiritual frequencies. the fact this music exists calls into question everything we know about what is real and or possible. earthling colleagues

listen to that snare 'drum' ... ahhh!!!!

order the animal collective remix ep on wax. this song is one of 4 and another is by gang gang dance. cop it here.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Concert Experience

(collage: trasvorder)

Devout Ishmaelite Yoshi chips in a write up of his experience seeing Shabazz in DC a couple of weeks ago:

The duo came out like serpents, Ish slivers away and into the crowd on beat, body-nodding, only hands glued to the sample-box, everything else fluid motion. Tendai was still the whole time, a solid music box, dynamism and magic without seeming to go anywhere physically; transporter. The first song is glorious splendiferous magnificent. Choral lines, but not choir-like. Epic voices rising, but not in a melodic pattern I could frame. A sample? Probably, but how? The solid beat is power, mind-flowing. I ask after the show if this first track has already been recorded, if it is on the new album (assuming there is a new album). Ish smiles, says yes. Later on I also ask Tendai the exact same question when we get a few moments to speak, bespeak. I asked each of them individually because the song was that good. I asked them both at separate occasions because I was a detective investigating two suspects and wanting to corroborate their story. Writers like these enjoy distortions, I know this. I know who I'm dealing with. This case is too important, the music had said to me. Can't leave it up to the bureaucrats. We’ve got too much riding on this one. That beat is too gargantuan and simultaneously smooth. Too dream-like. Of course it may never be as good as the live show. It never will be quite the same. At one point towards the end of a show that seemed to never-end, Ish began another new beat. It was an off-kilter, drunken sounding shuffle of a Caribbean groove, steel pans perhaps, I forget gladly. The beat was a nonsensical drink. And there he was, rapper of the moment, still flowing some kind of flow over it. Music. What does music say? It says what Kevin Garnett once said when he beheld a golden trophy in his fingers, “Anything is possible.” And it means it.

This, my fourth opportunity to see the best live show of our era, was a gift, and surely the best yet. Often I wonder what these great guys are doing touring non-stop. I think, why not just get busy making a new album? It seems odd, if you, like I, forget that the live space is clearly a space for creation in itself. I forget that every time I am not at a Shabazz Palaces gig, and I remember it every time I am. Much like when I saw them at Santo’s Party House in 2011, there were new songs here. Some may see the light of the day, some may not. I know these two magicians know a groove when they stumble upon one, it haunts like a ghost. I know how some beats go into the night and never come back. But practical reality kicks in too, like a kick. Being a musician, one knows that shows this well rehearsed and flowed don't go entirely by spontaneity, yo. If a sample is sample, and triggered by a light, it must be real. It won't be truly forgotten. Thus, confident, I was that the two suspects would say ‘yes’ before I asked if that mesmerizing first track would be on their new album. Whatever the new album will be. A leaf falling from a tree, and being blown up and around-round for quite some time. If it falls, nobody sees it. Just the swirls of legend, and concentrated African-American girls who are won over by the beat as the concert deepens and musicality expands and Tendai loses it wildly and safely in a drum solo that somehow stays on beat through the barbaric storm of heat and meat. Through the murder that Ish kills it with through his open-source, freestyle programmed Ish-ness, which is way cooler than what the rest of the pups make up in their packets and meals, microwaved. The people were won over by it, as they must be at every show, where I see their faces slowly go, glow, realizing what this is, a display of opportunity and seed-flowering to its potential. Humans rising like trees to their beautiful specific potentialities. This show was a cool heatwave. The encore was more. Too much, I keep on thinking at these shows. "Too much!". Like I should have stopped this article a few sentences ago, but excess can be =plush= and thus enjoyable in brief fragments.

May the force continue.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

new interview

pretty decent. def worth a read in its original home bc it has some snippets of the audio interview at the bottom. i bet the new album won't come out until 2014. not to sound pessimistic tho...

(art by trasvorder)

Shabazz Palaces
Intrepid rappers take the genre into uncharted terrain
SHABAZZ PALACES with THEESATISFACTION at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday (April 23), 8 pm. $20.

Ishmael Butler has been rapping for a long time, so when he expresses discontent with the current hip-hop landscape, it doesn’t seem bitter or rash.

“Engineering this art for success has made hip-hop very thin, myopic and impotent. There’s still moments of really intense colour and beauty, but it lacks depth,” says the MC over the phone from his hometown of Seattle.
“It’s been imperialized,” Butler continues. “People came down, figured out what was valuable and threw the value into the capitalist system. Hip-hop used to rally against that. Now the people at the forefront – I like to say, down at the top – are willing to propagate this whole kinda life. We didn’t come from this artistic-expressionless place, and it’s sad to be here now, with no respite in sight.”
Well, not exactly no respite. As the voice of hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces, Butler delivers that colour and beauty in technicolour, along with instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire. Hip-hop is young, but Shabazz Palaces sound rooted in any number of ancient civilizations.
Their lane of rap music is relatively unpopulated, and unencumbered by the pressure to make radio-friendly hits, Shabazz Palaces’s songs grow in unlikely directions – to the immense relief of rap fans wanting more than predictable four-minute bangers.
Butler is contagiously laid-back, but when he wants to talk about something, his answers are like little poems, peppered with evocative language and echoing sentence structure. It’s not surprising that even on some of their intense, shouty songs, Shabazz Palaces sound more like spoken-word poets than commercial rappers.
Their debut 2011 album, Black Up, doesn’t follow typical rap codes. There is no verse-chorus-verse pattern, songs change mood and direction midway through, and while the words are simple and straightforward, the deeper meaning is often inscrutable.
Themes range from the serious (racism) to the not so serious (being in love). You can listen to the album many times without fully understanding it and, like good lit, new meanings emerge with each study.
Living and creating in Washington state, they lack the geography-specific musical attributes of hip-hop makers in New York, Atlanta and L.A., but Butler says that’s besides the point.
“We wouldn’t feel restrained to do anything a certain way even if Seattle did have specific characteristics.”
Backing up this claim is the fact that Butler lived in New York for 14 years, never subscribing to any particular formula. Among a plethora of other projects, in the mid-90s he rapped under the moniker Butterfly with the Grammy-winning alt-hip-hop trio Digable Planets.
Butler promises a follow-up to Black Up soon, and half-commits to a 2013 release. Those too impatient to wait should check out their tour mates, fellow Seattle hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction, an equally exploratory, all-female act who first appeared on a Black Up guest track and subsequently signed to Sub Pop.
Butler once described an album as the station his live show leaves from. If Tuesday’s point of departure is Black Up, fans should be ready for an exquisitely unpredictable ride.

the tour is happening. now.

you reap what you sow. now go.

best lyricist ever?

recently i had the urge to listen to ish's verse from borough check, in my opinion 20 of the illest bars ever put down on wax. not only did i manage to decipher new lyrics (this miraculous happening still occurs even though i must've listened to the records more than anyone alive) but browsing the youtube comments i came across an interesting one from a viewer:

"In my opinion, after Nas, Butterfly is the best lyricist in hip-hop history. Not to mention that he produced all these gems, and not including his slang-doctor capabilities."

i've often thought along the same lines, although i try not to think in heirarchical terms when it comes to art. but while arguably greater mcs like the illmatic one and rakim have some kind of manifest-to-all undisputable power, ish's raps to me have reached higher heights than any other rhymesayer alive or not. the poetry is just too sophisticated, too instinctual, the subtleties too... divine. i can't explain it but my mind comprehends high art in this case and for that i'm grateful. simply put, it can take you to places no other rap can. it's in another realm altogether. as time passes this'll become clearer to the world.

if you're working on writing rhymes, poetry, you seriously need to check ish's ish.

to the majority of listeners that may be a big claim, but to the veiled cabal of fans that just 'get' what this man creates, it's a self-evident truth. should you require evidence, however, look no further than his latest recording, the guest raps on vox mod's "iridescent asteroid mists": 20 years in the game and the dude drops 28 (!) bars of blazing fire, sounding hungrier than nas at 19. i got a chance to hang out with him this time last year in brighton and he said of his work, "i know the best is yet to come."

i've attempted to transcribe the lyrics.

talkin of nas, check the possible homage in the first bar: "ain't hard to tell". needless to say, there are surely mistakes and omissions so if you have any contributions hit the comment button below

start it off
that's how we start it off
blast it down
that's how we start if off

alive to tell
my motion strive deep as wells
the wave they swell
made by the slaves, ain't hard to tell
raise the crown
amazed for the new days, blazed in sound
syncopated, related, the high art blastin'
dipped in the passion,
flashy lil clowns (?)
when i hold my rope, squeeze my scope, i hope i choke, my rap gun smokes
fires and retires you and your folk
just to dash your hopes
like a fiend on the slopes
i can't stop
addicted to the slick shit that i pop
no, really: shoulda asked somebody
i blast your party, blowin the hottie (?), nigga i'm on your shorty
and the cake that i bake's straight thorough
i grease you
play you out n twist you like a curl
it's my world
we test you on the shit we quoted
when you fail,
when you get deported,
you __________ your beat, you swore it was heat, but nah it was weak
_________  unique,
please, you can't run, my uzi sprays, _________ stays
like __________, i kill your style for fun
there ain't no glitch in my matrix
the _______ is the fakest _______
pop culture say you hot like bitches with fake tits
________ workers, that's all we can fuck wit
forward with the culture angels that'll murk it
hustlers play the angles, they'll hug you then hurt you
cops' illegal searches stash a gat in your work
but it's the thang

that's how we start it off.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

holy shit

or should i say holy ish

i see how this galaxy-crunching 'beat' brought out a historic mic-shredding verse from the palaceer.  the fact that he was not featured in the book "how to rap" or ice-t's recent film "the art of rap" highlights how deaf much of hip-hop's audience has become. but fuck it - the real heads know what's up. 

not even going to try and attempt a lyrics transcription for now - but the comments section below beckons for any of the braver ishmaelites...

this song is the centerpiece of vox mod's album


. here's a short film by the electric soul controller vox mod, essentially a mini 'making-of' documentary

mr mod hopes to make a video for this song and is raising funds HERE on indiegogo so click and donate a few dollars... this looks like a classic piece of art in the making.

excited to spread the word: Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent Asteroid Mists

Iridescent           Asteroid           Mists

live in chi-town

ooh listen to the 2nd verse. no compromise.  what's he saying for the chorus... "force live"?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

tendai maraire - "is she?"

new tendai video! black africa as bladerunner-scape

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

new remix

great new melancholy remix of a helio sequence song while the portlanders return the favour. they're currently on tour with each other. click here > for the goods.