Review Summary: Outstanding sophomore LP created by one of the most forward thinking artist in music industry these days
Three years long hiatus of emptiness is finally over and Seattle based avant-garde hip hop prophets served us yet another masterpiece. Lese Majesty is inheritor of their first full length effort called Black Up which was released back in 2011. Black Up reached huge exultation inside hip hop left-field community and received positive response from professional reviewers as well. Does Shabazz Palaces continue on their path of afro futurists’ harbingers and “next black wave” visage of hip hop for future decades" Time will tell but for now the simple statement that Lese Majesty is most likely the most complete project of this group must be sufficient.
Lese majesty sonically occupy different “time and space” compared to predecessor. While Butler ensure us on Black Up opener Free press and Curl that he “run on feelings” he truly meant it. Where Black Up acts edgy and abrasive, Lese Majesty sounds calm and peaceful, where Black Up shed first time listener into the meat grinder of weird sounds, echoes and loops, Lese Majesty works more like star map drawn on Egyptian statue in Farshut. The best possible example is beginning of both albums. On Black Up synth heavy beat on “Free press and curl” slowly develop into abysmally distorted yet fantastic beat on „echo from ghosts that…“ Lese Majesty open up with dreamy dark ambient “Dawn in Luxor” where Palaceer spit some twisted and abstract bars. That song evolved to another highlighted track Forerunner Foray which carry same DNA as a first one. Long story short Butler still run on feelings but because of his different state of mind his music is now more positive, groovy and far less abrasive. Perplex of some Black Up listeners is gone on Lese Majesty. Artistic progression or better …evolution… is here. Black up was and to be honest still is one of the most innovative and my most favorite album of all time. On Lese Majesty the new ideas are not given with deadly cadency like on Black Up which is great and bad at the same time. Depends on your preference, expectations and mood. Black up was an experiment, bloody great experiment, Lese Majesty is more like establishing creativity process on fine spot. Songs on Lese Majesty are still diversified enough, textured and also really fun to listen, like the track called #CAKE which is probably the most “club approval“ song on whole LP.
Lese Majesty is concept album divided into 7 suites. Each suit got one or more shorter complementary track/s. Why complementary" Those songs work very well as an openers for standout tracks. For example “soundview” is hella great mood calibrating opener for Ishmael, personally the best track on this LP. Minority of reviewers complaining about high amount of fillers but personally I don’t see it that way I think it’s more like complete incomprehension of what concept album meant to be and what shorter interludes can provide for integrated feeling from album. Don’t forget on Madvillainy record. I don’t think shorter tracks like "bistro", "supervillain theme" or "sickfit“ are equal to „All caps“ or „Strange ways“. Lese Majesty is an album and needs to be listen as a whole package you’ll do better listening it with close eyes fully focused on music as a whole instead of listening with printed tracklist still checking which track is short or shorter and which is or may be the filler.
Shabazz Palaces once more crafted phenomenal LP which might help to establish sound to future hip hop. Again, they are beyond our standard terrestrial time, they time travelling and they are able to do it only with passion for music and Butler’s primal instinct for doing cool progressive music. It’s almost hard to believe, that music which they serve us is created by 45 years old Ishmael Butler not by young, fresh and “open minded” teenage experimental music MC/producer. To be honest it’s not that shocking because that music coming from a heart of man who opened last track on first Digable Planets LP twenty-one years ago with words…!
“One day while I was sipping some groove juice I realized
That in the span of time we're just babies
It's all relative, time is unreal
We're just babies, we're just babies, man”
And “if the funk don't move your butt” and you think that LP is weak or “too experimental” I feel sorry for you because if you’ll listen closely you may undergo almost religious trip to Egypt without plane tickets only with mp3 player and headphones… plus, that plane leaves in 2562 A.D. so you might not catch it.
Standout track: Ishmael, Dawn in Luxor, CAKE, Motion Sickness