Clear some space out so we can space out

The quality is not excellent but this video partially captures the wonder that is a live Shabazz Palaces show.  Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and his bongo-wielding partner piece together passionate manifestos.  Emotional outpourings of deep bass, electric stabs, poetic musings, and synchronized dance movements.  One could be forgiven for assuming that the intricate and effect-heavy songs on Black Up would feel flat in a live setting.  But one would be wrong.  Butler commands the beat pad with authority and the inclusion of live instruments lends depth and a human element to the sound.  Here you can see how one of the more simple tracks on Black Up is reworked to form a stunning live arrangement.

In the video it’s clear that when Butterfly moves away from the electronics, approaches the audience, and delves into his verse there is a profound energy in his face.  He is a general making his case for war.  A beat poet deriding social injustice. In Butler’s own words, “the shit [he] pops is heated because [he] loves it and [he] means it.”

Most hip-hop fans will  bemoan the fact that the quality of a group rarely comes through live.  In the case of Shabazz Palaces the music is elevated.  Its power reaches every corner of the room and, if only for a moment, it makes you forget about that crappy De La gig you saw last year.  Shabazz Palaces’ website is here.  You can stream Black Up here.

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