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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

November 3, 2009 at 10:39 AM

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Shabazz Palaces songs and interview live at KEXP studios

Posted by Andrew Matson


Shabazz Palaces live on KEXP 90.3 FM

When Seattle's Shabazz Palaces first made noise in the local press last June, rapper Ishmael Butler was semi-seriously trying to remain anonymous. There is still mystery surrounding the bohemian/street rap act.

Fill out the contact fields at and you might get an email back from "Palaceer Lazaro," whoever that is. The site is beautifully designed and so are Shabazz Palaces' two mini-albums—they come with decorative detachable patches—but ask the designers about details and they'll tell you they've been sworn to secrecy. Further adding to the mystique is the fact Shabazz Palaces has not played any public concerts in Seattle, and besides its website and CD packaging, is visually represented only by a very art-school music video that doesn't obviously feature Butler.

In a landmark bit of exposition, Shabazz Palaces performed and was interviewed at KEXP's studio 10/25/09. The music marries mbira and drum machine in perfect harmony, and Ishmael Butler controls the mic like a pro.

The interviewer is Larry Mizell, Jr., the show is Street Sounds, and the setlist is...well, I don't know. It starts with "4 Shadows," then I can't place the next song "N**** W'sappenin," then "Hottabatch," then "a mess, the booth soaks in palacian musk, palaceer in vintage LRG, yes pure NS,uppowndet watermelon lips beat."

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