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Black Up

Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (102 ratings)
Black Up album cover
free press and curl
An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum
Are you… Can you… Were you? (Felt)
A treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis (1000 questions, 1 answer)
Endeavors for Never (The last time we spoke you said you were not here.  I saw you though.)
Recollections of the wraith
The King’s new clothes were made by his own hands
yeah you
Swerve... the reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)
Album Information

Total Tracks: 10   Total Length: 36:26

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Wondering Sound

Review 0

For all its private-files feel, the music is instantly accessible
2011 | Label: Sub Pop Records

Ishmael Butler doesn’t like to repeat himself, and he’ll take as much time as needed between projects in order to make sure that he doesn’t. As Butterfly, he led the New York trio Digable Planets through a pair of very different, equally rewarding mid ’90s albums (1993′s Reachin’ and ’94′s Blowout Comb), then kept his head down for a decade. That group split in 1996, and Butler eventually made his way back to… read more »

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This is some of the most innovative music I have heard since Animal Collective. Combines the creative with the accessible. Murky, dense, tribal, dope & booming. The best hip hop.... the best music I have heard in a long time. The creativity bubbling out of this music is infection.

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Challenging, but oh so worth it.


For me, this album literally took about twenty listens before it clicked. During those listens, it slowly burrowed its way into my consciousness. For me, Hip Hop dies around 2001. This album transcends Hip Hop. It is all I have listened to now for months. I still can't explain why I love this album so much. The rhymes are sometimes loose and "syllabolically" inconsistent. The beats, however are mesmerizing and Butler's flow is like Heroin....slowly addictive where once it grabs you, you can't get out! This album is literally a musical trap. Listen to it and take a trip.

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one of 2011's greats


it's interesting the careful shroud of mystique, intrigue and anti-hype hype carefully crafted by Butterfly, I mean Ishmael - and Sub Pop. One can only surmise reinvention and distancing oneself from the DPs. But for as original and progressive as this hip hop record is, there are several nods back to digable... albeit mostly in vibe and phrasing. However, the coda on Swerve is a direct sample off of the Planet's Escapism - trading funk for black. Dig this record, pun very much intended.

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black up


palaceer doesn't pussyfoot around. listen only if you're ready.

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eMusic Features


Hip-Hop’s Future Shock

By Hua Hsu, Contributor

Thumb-tacked to the wall of my room in my parents' house is a list I printed out in the year 2000. Hiphopsite.com, an online hip-hop record store had produced a list of the 100 most anticipated releases for the upcoming year. I've left it on my wall partly out of laziness and partly because of how chastening it is to recall the days when an N.W.A. reunion album or a DJ Premier-produced Terror Squad album… more »

They Say All Music Guide

Only a little more than a year after releasing two EPs — a self-titled one, and Of Light — Seattle’s Shabazz Palaces signed to Sub Pop for their full-length debut. Even on a high-profile label, former Digable Planets member Ishmael Butler (formerly Butterfly) maintains a shroud of mystique, rapping under the facade of Palaceer Lazaro and purposely avoiding publicity, interviews, and liner credits. Considering his long-term time in the game, his wordplay is still surprisingly relevant, and, masked as Lazaro, he reinvents himself by adding an air of sophistication to the persona of a streetwise gangster. Jazz references are no longer the norm and Butler steers away from the blaxploitation slang and rhymes about being an insect or a creamy spy, but he still has a distinctive, surreal style of flowing. Compared to former albums by Digable Planets, Cherrywine, Camp Lo (Butler guested on some of their tracks), or even on the prior Shabazz Palaces EPs (which were pretty dark to begin with), Black Up is a much harder-edged album. There are no obvious singles, and the beats are murky, splintered, and synthesized, reminiscent of the space-age rap of acts like Deltron 3030, Kool Keith, and Dälek. In a year when minimal production is on the upswing — a trend highlighted by the enormous buzz surrounding Odd Future and Tyler, the Creator’s bare-boned productions — Shabazz Palaces seems perfectly in tune with a modern underground movement that embraces the most ominous and difficult aspects of hip-hop. As the mainstream becomes more and more predictable, Shabazz Palaces’ inscrutability is a welcome change. Because the beats are so abstract, roots take precedent, and a strong presence on the microphone becomes the most important aspect. Butler fills this role with ease. His smooth, sparkling rhymes glue Knife Knights’ watery environment together to create a provocative listen from start to finish. – Jason Lymangrover

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