Shabazz Palaces Offer a Glimpse of a Hopeful Future at Boot & Saddle

March 19th, 2018

Shabazz Palaces – Boot & Saddle – March 18, 2018

If now feels dangerous, it’s time to expand our minds. It’s time to imagine new possibilities. We want Black Panther’s Wakanda. We want to shift the boundaries of discussion, and music can be our messenger. Space is needed. Today is cluttered. But through clever lyrics and rich soundscapes, Shabazz Palaces move through the void. They inspire thoughts on an astral plane, somewhere beyond the earthly concept of what is possible to what can be imagined. They are steeped in art, from their dress to visual displays. On Sunday night at Boot & Saddle, the duo of Ishmael Butler (aka Palaceer Lazaro) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire stood behind a projection of thought-provoking imagery. Even when the screen went blue, with a NO SIGNAL icon dancing about, it felt intentional. More so, clips of rocket travel, African tribes and a tense scene with Christopher Plummer.

The whole room was wrapped in sound, the low end rumbling against the walls. And the songs spanned the group’s entire catalog, including last year’s third and fourth LPs—centered on our relationship to devices—Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. the Jealous Machines. The content of those two albums was woven in between standout tracks from previous recordings, such as songs from their debut release, Black Up, which received some of the loud crowd’s wildest applause. It was interesting to see such a cozy venue host such an immersive hip-hop group. With limited lighting, the two were backlit by the screen. We saw occasional flashes of a face, a necklace or a metal plate like armor. There were shadows of a drum machine. It was like ghosts in the machine: The voices and the grooves, space to imagine, boundaries pushed and a glimpse of a hopeful future. —Jared Levey | @Playtonic