field report no.091117

LOCATION: the Grey Eagle AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Shabazz Palaces

I've seen more hip hop since moving to Asheville than I saw in all my 10 NYC years. Which is to say, New York just had more on offer for a tangential fan of hip hop. Given that, Shabazz Palaces is much more my speed than any other rap I've seen. You could argue they're more of a continuation of the trip hop tradition, which is a movement I (personally) count as formative. The left field abstraction and sonic u-turns of Shabazz Palaces is more in-line with the likes of Tricky, or even MC 900 Foot Jesus, than Digable Planets (which their leader, Palaceer Lazaro, hails from—as any writeup is obligated to mention).

Shabazz records can veer so oblique, their live show gave heft and punch to tracks that could too often drift by, almost unnoticed on the stereo. The instrumentation was stripped down, with a fitful stop-start pacing to refocus your attention. I'd seen Shabazz once in Brooklyn, but the situation—as a poorly matched opening act in a daylit, open-air amphitheater—was by no means flattering. This time around I left as a convert.  

NOTES: Shabbazz Palaces; Porter Ray