Shabazz Palaces
Black Up


4.5
superb

Review

by Ethan USER (3 Reviews)
June 15th, 2011 | 53 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dear Sputnik: Please Don't Sleep On This One.

Once I tried to read Ulysses. I didn’t even make it past the second chapter, but I read the last couple pages out of curiosity and my mind was blown. Joyce’s genius filled me with inspiration and the profound prospect of endless possibility: here was a masterpiece, difficult to penetrate and yet so affecting. The idea of abstract art, of diving off the deep end and returning with the key to the universe, enthralled me.

The first time I listened to Black Up was like the first time I read the end of Ulysses was like the first time I listened to cLOUDDEAD. Special and deep areas of my brain were tapped. I still consider cLOUDDEAD to be one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve ever heard. It is the coalescence of the Anticon label's unique and undeniable talents; a triumphantly rewarding magnum opus.

Black Up is weird like cLOUDDEAD, and similarly murky, psychedelic and genre-bending. But the most pronounced difference is how this sh*t bumps. The whole thing is bathed in an air of seemingly effortless dope-as-fvck-dom. “An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum” loops a ridiculously sick vocal sample before kalimba, bongos and a gathering of other instruments enter and the track hits outer space. “Swerve…” is a dizzyingly good closer that, yes, swerves and snaps with jaw-dropping results. When it comes to the production on Black Up, the closest reference points that come to my mind are the jazz samples of Endtroducing… and the spectral thunder of El-P. But the music here is really on another level. Fuzz thumps, drums revolve, mantras repeat: boundaries are broken.

There is also the rapping, courtesy of Palaceer Lazaro, aka Digable Planets frontman Butterfly. The lyrical content is generally abstract (in a good way), but a couple standout tracks are thematically focused. “A treatise…” is a sweet ode to a fly girl and “yeah you” serves up phony rappers on a plate of rolling construction. Otherwise we get mostly spiritual verse like “You can’t sleep / Always hear that beat / It flow back to mind / Every time you breathe” and personal-favorite “Clear some space out / So we can space-out”. Palaceer’s MC-ing is solid overall, but look elsewhere if you want the tightest rhymes in recent memory.

Black Up is far from perfect and also far from classic, but it is important and really just inspiring. In less than 35 minutes it blows through the already extraordinary hip-hop landscape of 2011 like a ship traveling in hyperspace. It is a thoroughly hot banger but it is also avant-garde art of an outstandingly high caliber. It reminds us of all the creativity and beauty that there is to be found in life by joyously presenting it to us in front of our faces.


user ratings (450)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Pavel Sukany (5)
Album of the year so far......

Tyler Fisher EMERITUS (4.5)
Clear some space out, so we can space out....

related reviews

Lese Majesty
recommended by reviewer
cLOUDDEAD cLOUDDEAD
DJ Shadow Endtroducing...

Comments:Add a Comment 
ECRbubs
June 16th 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Apologies, I kinda rushed this but I really want y'all to get psyched about this album.

Cop it:

http://www.mediafire.com/?q14lmkz4vxx89y7

http://www.subpop.com/releases/shabazz_palaces/full_lengths/black_up

psykonaut
June 16th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

shabazz palaces rules, i'll be sure to check this out man. good review too

Jash
June 16th 2011


4244 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Stealing music is bad mr.

The beats are defiantly the best part about this album, "An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum" is so trippy.

Tupik
June 16th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Will listen to this, sound nice. pos'd

liledman
June 16th 2011


3826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

gorilla vs bear have been hyping the shit outta shabazz, ive been meaning to check them out. i heard one track a while ago and it was pretty cool.

ECRbubs
June 16th 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks all, it's definitely more than worth a try

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 16th 2011


15082 Comments


will listen, you have the best taste

ECRbubs
June 16th 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks much dude I appreciate that

Tupik
June 24th 2011


673 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is pretty cool, don't know if I'll always be in a mood to listen to it though.
I'll have to listen to it again though because it was only a quick half-assed listen.

Kiran
Emeritus
June 24th 2011


6002 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

gorilla vs bear have been hyping the shit outta shabazz, ive been meaning to check them out.

yes this

liledman
June 25th 2011


3826 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and the hype is pretty worth it i think. i dig.

gRINN
June 26th 2011


9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album needs more love.

Drsmith4
June 27th 2011


1719 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stately, plump

cLOUDDEAD

Hmmm...I should probably check this out. Like, immediately.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 27th 2011


7025 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seems like my kind of hip hop

bab808
June 27th 2011


456 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is good shit

ECRbubs
June 27th 2011


687 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

p4k BNM bump

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2011


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

dude's flow remind anyone of earl?

conradtao
Emeritus
June 27th 2011


2090 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, but even better

i'm so glad this got BNM, it deserves the praise

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
June 27th 2011


15082 Comments


this is really cool

BigSimo
June 27th 2011


166 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is great. instrumental passages = win



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