Shabazz Palaces, 'Lese Majesty'

The sophomore LP from Seattle's Shabazz Palaces reads like a futuristic, Black Powered, counterculture thesis draft written under some kind of influence. Palaceer Lazaro (aka Ishmael Butler of influential '90s alt-rap outfit Digable Planets and early-2000s future-funk project Cherrywine) begins "Lese Majesty" by name-­checking Kalashnikov rifles and audio engineer Rupert Neve on opener "Dawn in Luxor." On follow-up track "Forerunner Foray," he slant-rhymes Rod Lavers with the Lakers. Three songs in, he's critiquing wealth and vanity through the lens of Moby-Dick and making up words - "blackophilic peodolistic pedestrophic" - as he goes.

"Lese Majesty" - which Lazaro recorded and produced without Shabazz Palaces' other half, percussionist Tendai Maraire - draws on a lot of history for a style of music that has little precedent, save the group's thrillingly experimental 2011 full-length debut, "Black Up," and Lazaro's astral R&B projections as Cherrywine. Over a shivery guitar twang on "Noetic Noiromantics," Lazaro murmurs, "Comes in a new light the strangest strongest I've had the pleasure"; indeed, "Lese Majesty" is perhaps the strangest, strongest Shabazz Palaces project yet.

Here, Lazaro sinks his many, many words even further into a heady swirl of galactic synths and dizzyingly fragmented vocal effects. Yet he doesn't take himself too seriously, at least on the surface: He finds room to reference the world's cheesiest instrument on the insistent yet warped "Mind Glitch Keytar TM Theme" and twists hashtags into a tongue-in-cheek ode to "boos" and hedonism on "#CAKE." With "Lese Majesty," Shabazz Palaces' sonic vision skyrockets even further into the stratosphere.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.