I must begin with a heartfelt thank-you to Kevin for sharing this with me. Thanks, Kevin!
Shabazz Palaces crafted possibly the best hiphop album of the new millennium with Black Up, something I’ve documented here and here. Aside its status as a masterpiece of songwriting and innovative production, engaging places of the heart and mind which hiphop rarely acknowledges, the album serves as the blueprint for increasingly thoughtful and fun live appearances. This particular video is the most professional and high fidelity recording I’ve seen, so despite its brevity there’s no better place to start expanding your view of the group. Familiarity with the songs is not required for enjoyment – they’re evocative, head-nodding creations in any format – yet the pleasures multiply when contrasting the live interpretations of such meticulously sculpted album cuts. The hiphop I’ve seen in person tends toward one end or another: preformed backing tracks to emulate the recorded experience, or stripped down live-band approaches. The latter are often more fun yet distance the performers from what we hear at home. Shabazz Palaces seem to cut not a middle ground, but a third path to live nirvana, mixing the laptop histrionics and physical instrumentation with an experimental eye toward carving the feeling into something as disorienting and psychedelic as the album itself.
If you haven’t heard the album you owe it to yourself to check out my writeup and listen to the full stream here.