Lese Majesty, Shabazz Palaces’s much anticipated follow up to their critically acclaimed Black Up! continues to cement the group’s reputation for being relentlessly experimental and for their focus on crafting rather intricately nuanced psychedelic soundscapes. However, where Black Up! was a bit more approachable, Lese Majesty is simultaneously ethereal and dense layered and defiantly labyrinthine. Sonically, it’s an album that forces and demands repeated listens, and almost every single listen reveals something you may have missed. In fact, on the Seattle, WA-based group’s latest effort, it’s apparent that they’ve gone through a massive change in sonic direction. The material on the album incorporates pulsating New Wave-like synths, room-rattling bass, samples and found sounds paired with Butler’s ridiculous flow, which consists of playful word play and complex inner and outer rhyme schemes. Much “#CAKE,” “Forerunner Foray,” effortlessly morphs and shifts seemingly at will. However, “Forerunner Foray” is among the most ethereal track on the entire album – it feels as though it’ll dissipate into the ether.
What I love about Shabazz Palaces is that their sound is unlike any in contemporary hip-hop or any other genre. It’s hip-hop from the surface of Neptune about a billion years into the future. And the official video, which features animation by Chad VanGaalen is deeply psychedelic and possesses a childlike awe.