Shabazz Palaces @ The Art School, Glasgow, 8 Nov
All the weird, wonderful and downright bat-shit craziness that make up Shabazz Palaces’ music comes to life at the Art School; it truly is something to behold
Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire released their most ambitious project to date earlier this year: two albums – Quazarz: Born On a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines – which follow the journey of Quazarz, a sentient being sent to Earth as a musical emissary. It’s as odd as it sounds, but this is exactly what is so great about Shabazz Palaces.
...Born On a Gangster Star is a more straightforward hip-hop album, as far as straightforward goes with the duo. The beats are pithy and dense and Butler’s flow cuts as sharp as a knife. The bass on When Cats Claw reverberates through the room, as do Butler’s echoing vocals; Eel Dreams has a more downplayed feel, the waviness of the beats slowing down proceedings for a moment.
As the duo begin playing Welcome to Quazarz – the opening track of …the Jealous Machines – the track’s accompanying video, directed by Nep Sidhu, starts to play in the background. This is just one segment of the incredible visual show that Shabazz Palaces have playing throughout the entirety of their performance. It is typical of the band’s aesthetic: trippy, engrossing and, at times, rather disturbing.
Shabazz Palaces are artists at the top of their game. Between Butler’s powerful lyrics and Maraire’s outstanding musical abilities (his bongo solos are a highlight of the show), it's a tour de force, solidifying their position as the most innovative hip-hop group of their generation.