The afrofuturistic hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces has announced the release of not one but two albums after their 2014 full-length debut album, “Lese Majesty.” Their ambitious artistic follow-up has manifested into self-proclaimed “monozygotic” full-length albums titled “Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star” and “Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines.” Explained as extra-spatial twins to one another, the albums tell a story of a sentient being who is “from elsewhere.”
Palaceer Lazaro aka Ishamel Butler, formerly known as “Butterfly” of the 90s jazzy hip-hop group Digable Planets, describes the album’s character, Quazarz, as his extraterrestrial persona: “I, Quazarz, Born on a Gangster Star, son only of Barbara Dream Caster and Reginald The Dark Hoper—he who rides on light—dreamer of the seventh dream and kissed eternal by Awet the Sun Scented, who far from home I found my same self differents in those constellies that be Dai at my weap-side immediate and all us Water Guild affiliates whose revelries in the futures passed recordings and ceremonies flexing resplendent in the Paradise Sportif armor, raising these musics a joy/cry that way into these aquadescentdiamondized ethers of the Migosphere here on Drake world.
Welcome to Quazarz.”
Within the explanation, and without hearing the music, Shabazz Palaces makes it difficult to know what to expect. Nonetheless, the band generously released three singles immediately upon announcing the albums, “Shine a Light” (feat. Thaddillac) and “Since C.A.Y.A.” from “Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star” and “30 Clip Extension” from “Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines.” The songs are different from their 2014 release. They are less ethereal and a bit more funky. The songs make outer space sound like a Blacksploitation adventure, which is fun and leads listeners to believe that the story of Quazarz will be dramatic and action-packed.
Shabazz Palaces (“Fly Guy Dai” aka Tendai “Baba” Maraire and Palaceer Lazaro aka Ishmael Butler) are attempting create and alter the universe for us to explore on their own terms. With major influences from Octavia Butler and the artistic realms of afrofuturism, surrealism and Black intellectualism, the duo is expanding their scope by sonically and visually taking us to different worlds and scenarios of the Black experiences. There’s a science fiction and literary tone to the music. There also seem to be nods to Greek mythology as Quazarz’s style and jaw is cut like the
monographs of Greek gods.
“Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star” was produced by Knife Knights (aka Ishmael Butler and longtime collaborator Erik Blood) and “Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines” was produced by Butler and Sunny Levine.
I guess we’ll hear what we hear as Shabazz Palaces has made it a point to let art rule. Both albums are due out July 14 on Sub Pop Records.