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Shabazz Palaces are an experiential hip-hop duo from Seattle, US, led by Digable Planets member Ishmael Butler (aka Palaceer Lazaro) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire.
The group has been shrouded in mystery ever since their first recordings were released. In 2009, they released two EPs, a self-titled release and "Of Light" however the identity of the creators of the project was not revealed, with no accompanying promotional material and no presence on social networking sites. But despite their elusiveness, these recordings garnered significant praise from the local press, becoming favourites of the Sub Pop office, who went on to track the duo down and sign the to their label; the first hip-hop act to be signed to Sub Pop, a label predominantly focussing on alternative rock releases.
Following this, their debut album was released, titled "Black Up" in 2011, receiving wide critical acclaim and becoming an underground hit. It was revealed who was behind the music, with Ishmael Butler providing the lyrics and vocals and Tendai Maraire, son of famous mbar player Dumisani Mararie, providing the instrumentation for the track. The album was listed number one in a Seattle Times review of album releases in 2011.
Whilst maintaining the progressive lyrical wordplay of Digable Planets, Shabazz Palaces had a darker, more hard-hitting sound, creating complex soundscapes full of depth and innovation. Following their debut album, the duo remained relatively quiet, although they appeared on an AwE NaturalE track for his debut album, as well as contributing a track to Flying lotus' 2013 mixture "Ideas+Drafts+Loops." In 2014, they released their second record, "Lese Majesty," again released on Sub Pop, continuing to progress their unique and innovative sound.