Review Summary: Lese Majesty boldly goes places where most hip-hop artists couldn’t even fathom.
Arranged into 7 different suites, Lese Majesty
is Shabazz Palaces' most ambitious project to date. The record takes the more spacey and ethereal soundscapes from Black Up
and expands them into yet another psychedelic journey, this time into the furthest reaches of the cosmos. From start to finish the record plays out like a Jodorowskian sci-fi soundtrack. Lyrics are strung together with playful incoherence. There is seemingly no apparent surface meaning on tracks like “They Come In Gold.” Often, the vocals are layered so densely over top one another or so gratuitously drenched in effects that deciphering what is being said becomes damn near incomprehensible. With several listens, it becomes apparent that whether the lyrics have any concrete meaning is largely irrelevant. While listeners may draw their own conclusions about the lyrical meaning behind the album with repeat listens, Lese Majesty
is more about the experience-the feeling that you are exploring new realms beyond human comprehension.
The other half of Shabazz Palaces, multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire, often steals much of the spotlight. The effects driven nature of the album is the real driving force behind the record’s success, the result being one long, formless entity. “Dawn in Luxor” lulls the listener into a sort of euphoric trance. The weightless synths carry the listener gradually into the sonic equivalent of a cosmic void. Samples such as the one used on “They Come In Gold” are as “out there” as they come, the overall track having a dense texture similar to many of Black Up’s
more interesting sounds. Much of the record is merely interlude and admittedly some of the album's experiments don’t always pay off the way they should. Despite this, the record never fails to at least remain interesting throughout its runtime.
boldly goes places where most hip-hop couldn’t even fathom. This album makes Kid Cudi’s Man on the Moon
albums feel like Bicentennial Man. Sub Pop continues to bring us both interesting and enlightening hip-hop and what has been some of the best albums from the genre this year. Shabazz Palaces taps a portion of the mind that leaves the listener feeling as though they’ve ventured all the way into the stars and back.