07 10

Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty Sub Pop


There’s been no shortage of alternative hip-hop these past few years, but just because some of the most publicised offerings came courtesy of relentlessly controversial figures and part-time rappers Odd Future, we shouldn’t discount any of their genuinely adventurous contemporaries.

That’s undoubtedly the category Seattle duo Shabazz Palaces should be placed in; with Lese Majesty, they’ve made a compelling case for the title of most forward-thinking collective under the alt hip-hop banner.

The 18 tracks here are split into seven different “astral suites of recorded happenings”, both sonically and thematically. It ticks most of the typical hip-hop boxes; a genuine alternative banger in the form of #CAKE and an impressive flow on Ishamel are let down by some uninspired lyricism running through Forerunner Foray. It really is its own entity however, not so much blurring genre lines; aiming instead to abolish them completely.

The beats are complex, eccentric and intelligently constructed. The narrative – while not always entirely easy to discern – is intricate and unusual. And with the progression from 2011’s debut Black Up shining throughout; you get the impression that this duo would rather give up completely than face the idea of repeating themselves.