The very first truck I bought after I got a “real job” out of college was a 1994 forest green Toyota 4Runner. That vehicle’s tenure in my life was fairly uneventful; it couriered me to various milquetoast locations around the greater Puget Sound region. Locations totally unlike the ones in this video here.
Great things happened in Seattle hip-hop in the year 2014 and many of those things took the form of cohesive, fully-realized albums. We’ll get to listing some of those tomorrow. Today, though, we’ll be talking about the two records that mattered most to 206UP, both within the last 365 calendar days and, as we’ll clumsily attempt to illustrate, time immemorial. One has specific ties to Seattle (it’s this blog’s top hip-hop album of the year). The other, while not intrinsically tied to the Town, was such a monumental — and surprise — release that it demands mentioning here. Both records flirted with the dimension of time the same way a drummer like Questlove flirts with rhythm: easily manipulated, altered to slow or speed our senses, and employed to imprint thoughts, memories and ideas onto our subconscious so that images like the one above become mere fossils in a morality tale we hope to never tell again in real life.
The new Shabazz Palaces clip, “Motion Sickness,” tugs at heartstrings and thrills the dramatic film devotee in all of us. The moment of reckoning for the video’s tragic heroine comes near the end. Even her feline friend senses a grievous conclusion; check how the video’s director, TEAN, captures the domesticated staring up at its master — you can practically hear the animal’s thoughts, pleading with the woman to save herself and her little girl. Incredible all around.
“Herein bumps and soars Lese Majesty, the new sonic action of Shabazz Palaces.” So states the write-up concerning SP’s newest album offering (officially out today) on their record label’s website (that would be Sub Pop). If you are attuned to the dispatches of the cerebral music internet, you’ve probably already read or heard the accolades. It’s all deserved. Lese Majesty is as much a follow-up to Black Up as outer space is to the stratosphere. While Black Up hovered somewhere in the ethereality between the corporeal and the heavens, Lese Majesty takes it a step further, echoing cosmic noise from the spacetime.
Brian Greene taught us that time might just be an illusion, wholly dependent on where we’re positioned in the universe and at what speed we happen to be traveling. Our extraterrestrial counterparts, zooming through the galaxy at just the right trajectory and speed, could theoretically view the entirety of human history through a powerful enough looking glass. At times, Lese Majesty sounds like the aural document from such an excursion.
Tracks like “Forerunner Foray” and “Motion Sickness” move with greater authority than most of Black Up, which makes Lese Majesty a more exciting record, at least empirically. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot to get lost in, however. “Ishmael” is one of my favorite Shabazz tracks to date: a floating, sweeping merger of soul, rock and hip-hop that reflects the intricacies of its eponymous creator.
I’m just beginning a third spin through Lese Majesty, and so far it promises more complexity and returns than anything I’ve heard in recent months. And I haven’t even begun to dig through the lyrics. “Bumps and soars,” indeed.
“Forerunner Foray” is the latest from Shabazz Palaces’Lese Majesty (due July 29 on Sub Pop). It’s a spectral hip-hop jam from the future featuring frequent collaborator Catherine Harris-White of THEESatisfaction. It’s also a description of the antics my bro and I used to get into in the earlier part of this century in my ’94 forest green Toyota. We don’t need four-wheel drive where we’re going, bruh.
New sounds from Shabazz Palaces means a necessary re-ordering of your earhole understanding. “They Come In Gold” is the shimmering new sample from SP’s upcoming Lese Majesty (due stateside July 29), a “7 suite, 18 track sonic mythmap of new black wave and ghetto psychedelics”. Easy for you to say, press release. “They Come In Gold” can be both a question and a statement. Adjust your cognizance accordingly.
Lese Majesty tracklist below is courtesy of our friends at Sub Pop, and more info is available here via Pitchfork.
Suite 1: “The Phasing Shift”: 1. “Dawn In Luxor” 2. “Forerunner Foray” 3. “They Come In Gold”