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.


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