Shabazz Palaces are percussionist Tendai Maraire and Ishmael Butler, formally of Digable Planets and Cherrywine. While Tendai employs ancient instruments from his homeland Zimbabwe, Ishmael provides the group’s vision and vocals.
For Butler, who never stopped making music since he released his classic album by Digable Planets , ‘’Blowout Comb’‘, Shabazz palaces is his latest place to play with ideas. Those ideas have always been simultaneously global in their expansiveness and basement ceiling low in their commitment to hip-hop’s bottom line.
After releasing several recordings themselves on small time labels, in 2010 they contracted to release an ep with Sub Pop and have collaborated in recordings and on stage with artists such as Mc Silk, THEESatisfaction,. They deliver sincere and radical lyrics with sounds and beats that include sounds from around the world. Containing echos of funk, minor-key jazz, London dubstep and mbira sounds they structure their songs outside the 16-bars/chorus/repeat form of much hip hop.Their music won them the first ever Music Genius award from The Stranger in 2010.
The group which also features mixing engineer Erik Blood, often dress in elaborate costumes and masks for their live performances.
Their video for Belhaven Meridian is a one-shot bw music video, shot in Watts, LA, homage to the 1977 classic film Killer of Sheep, a film set around the Watts Riots. It features a cameo by Ernest Wadell from The Wire.