Review Summary: Album of the year so far...
Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler path began in early 90's with critically acclaimed jazz-rap group called Digable Planets. They released 2 LP's and also won grammy award back in 1994 for "Best Rap performance by a duo or group" with single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like dat)". After Digable Planets end back in 1996, Butler for a first time withdrew into the shadows for many years.
In 2003 he came back with Cherrywine, which was basically group and not a hip hop group but Butler pushed his sound more to funk or electro funk there were huge R&B and Blues influence and less rap. With Cherrywine Butler showed his music sense and geniality once again. May 20, 2003 they released an LP "Bright Black" with that LP, Cherrywine also had a positive echo by critics. It sounds fresh, creative and Butler showed he is real musician not "only a rapper" he used acoutic guitar and other instruments in his songs. The whole "Bright Black" LP is like "festival of creativity" it was like a Butler speaking through his music "Watch what i can do" there were songs like "Anchorman Blues" and "Dazzlement" with electro beats, "So Glad for baby" which sounds like funk with a little rap on it, and on "All I can be" he played solo on acoustic guitar. Whole LP sounds different and had almost zero response by a public. After Cherrywine end Butler dissappeared for a second time.
In 2009 he returned stronger than ever with Shabazz Palaces project. Mystical duo based in Seattle consists of "Palaceer Lazaro" and "Tendai". Why Mystikal? They released 2 EP's "Of Light" and "Shabazz Palaces" there is no information about real identity all songs produced by "Knife Knights Plcrs" on website there are also no information about who "Palaceer Lazaro" is. When they perform live they covered faces by makeup and they used some weird masks or arabian turbans. Few months ago Shabazz officialy announcement LP called "Black UP" and uncovered themselves and under Palaceer Lazaro "mask" was none other than Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler. Butterfly effort blast without his fan base as a Palaceer Lazaro "with clear list" is admirable. Is he succeed? Definitely YES. Black UP is revolutionary, experimental and one of the most cohesive LP in recent history
Black Up on the first listen feel like weirdest thing in the whole world. If you sometimes thinking what Darth Vader could listen, well this is it. Shabazz Palaces sounds like music from year 2350, Butler experimented with vocals most of vocals on that LP go through syntetizer, the beats are variable with really wide zone of sounds and noises also across genres. There were hard electronic beats, psychadelic beats with jazz samples and big influenced by african music. You can find it almost everything from other genres reggae, blues, jazz and so on. I think someone could say "it sounds like 808 & Heartbrake" Well kanye experimented especially with his voice (autotuned voice) but beats are standard, cautiously when he recorded his "808 & Heartbreak" he definitely realized "Hell, I still need to sell that LP". Well I dont think Butler really care about his sales he doing music with passion put a part of his soul in it. Butler go much deeper than Kanye. His beats is so much complex and experimental. Well Kanye looks like 4 years old kid playing with his piano from toy-shop compared to Butler geniality (Most of people will disagree with this) but i don't care.
"free press and curl" opening track with hard electronic beat and distinctive Butler flow sounds great with social lyrics, Butler in one verse with five words said everything about his music he raps, ''Catchy yes but trendy no'' also criticizes consumer society, he raps,
''That's right I'm free to make consume to catch the stuff that holds me down
To capture my desires fashion out of this a crown
You know I'm free
*** you know I'm free
Pig, you know I'm free ''
Second song ''an echo from the hosts that profess infinitum'' with mindblowing beat is definitely another highlight on that LP. As a beat Butler used Woman vocal sample but he some kind of twisted, distort that sample, it sounds magnificent. I don't know how to describe it because i never heard none like that in past. In this song Butler used many layers the primary beat turn into Mbira solo (Mbira = typical Zimbabwe instrument) by tendai after 80 sec. And this is it, Butler is able to create song which include electronic psychadelic beat with african music influenced with pretty nice flow over it, CATCHY …. yes, TRENDY …. no
But there are also conventional sounding songs, hmm actually one song ''Are you... can you... were you (felt)'' pretty chillout song with great delivery in lyrics. Butler dissing in one verse fake rappers, he raps,
''The pistol-poppers that make pretty noise and get them dollars '' he playfulness in using ''pistol-poppers'' and ''pretty noise'' suggest he is referring to mainstream hip-hop that commercializes violence and street-life to a point that it’s strictly entertainment and has lost any serious credibility basically he talk about Rappers who were Gangsters since become musicians. Actually Butler fights against commercial music and fake candy rappers in another songs called ''Swerve... the reeping of all that is worthwhile (noir not withstanding)'' and ''Yeah you''
There are a few next songs that sounds pretty abstract and like nothing before accros genres. ''The king's new clothes were made by his own hands'' and ''A treatease dedicated to the avian airess from north east nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)'' Shabazz loves long songs names.
There are also two nice jazz influenced songs ''Recollections of the wraith'' and ''Endeavors for never (the last time we spoke you said you were not here. i saw you though.)'' ...''clear some space out, so we can space out'' butler says in one verse.
Well what can i say in the end of that review. Craig Jenkins in potholesinmyblog ''Black Up'' review said ''Black Up doesn’t change the universe or shift any paradigms or revolutionize rap the way a lot of hyperbolic prose might suggest it does. What it does do is focus on remaining routinely thought provoking, inspiring, and beautiful from start to finish.'' and put 5/5 rating. I agree with him with almost everything. Why almost? In my opinion Black Up DOES change the universe. Butler did it again he pushed music forward. He ''born this way'' but not the same way like Lady GaGa and another whack half singers, half strippers ''gods'' for present twisted pop culture society.
MY RATING: 5/5
**Sorry for my poor english grammar skills, also this is my first review on sputnikmusic I accept constructive criticism how can I prove**