Shabazz Palaces

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Shabazz Palaces
Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces, 2019
Background information
OriginSeattle, Washington, U.S.
Years active2009–present
LabelsSub Pop, Third Man
Past members
  • Tendai Maraire

Shabazz Palaces is an American hip hop group from Seattle led by Ishmael Butler a.k.a. Palaceer Lazaro (formerly Butterfly of jazz rap group Digable Planets). Much of the Butler's work as Shabazz Palaces has been made in collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire, son of mbira master Dumisani Maraire.[1][2] Active since 2009, Shabazz Palaces has released five studio albums on Sub Pop after self-releasing two EPs.


Two anonymously self-released EPs titled Shabazz Palaces and Of Light in 2009 led to Shabazz Palaces becoming the first hip-hop act to be signed to Sub Pop. Their debut full-length album, Black Up, was released in 2011 to widespread critical acclaim.[3] Black Up was listed #1 in Seattle Times music columnist Andrew Matson's "Local Top #10" of 2011.[4]

Their sophomore album, Lese Majesty, was released on July 29, 2014[5] after being premiered at Seattle's Pacific Science Center Laser Dome.

In 2017, Shabazz Palaces released its third and fourth full-length records concurrently. Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines were accompanied by a short film directed by Nep Sidhu, and a limited-run comic book illustrated by Joshua Ray Stephens.

In 2018, Shabazz Palaces joined up with frequent collaborator Erik Blood to release a full-length LP titled 1 Time Mirage under the moniker Knife Knights, originally a moniker used by Butler for his collaborative production work with Blood on previous Shabazz Palaces records, though now formalised as a touring band signed to Sub Pop.

Shabazz Palaces' fifth full-length record, The Don of Diamond Dreams, was released in 2020.

In 2023 the EP Illusions Ago was released on Glass Cane Records in collaboration with 'Lavarr The Starr', presumed to be another moniker of Butler's.


Shabazz Palaces' collaborations include guest features with or from Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Theesatisfaction, Stas THEE Boss, Erik Blood, clipping., Battles, The Helio Sequence, Porter Ray, Sunny Levine and Carlos Overall. One notable collaboration is the supergroup WOKE, formed with Flying Lotus and Thundercat, which released one single, "The Lavishments of Light Looking", featuring George Clinton.

Chimurenga Renaissance is a project led by Maraire, in collaboration with guitarist Hussein Kalonji and with contributions from Butler. The project released a mixtape, Pungwe, in 2012, and published it as an album on March 5, 2013.[6][7] They released their full-length debut album riZe vadZimu riZe on March 25, 2014.[8] Two EPs followed: Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema on February 3, 2015, and Girlz With Gunz on February 5, 2016.[9][10]

Shabazz Palaces form part of the Black Constellation, a Seattle-based collective including visual artists, fashion designers, and musicians.

An April 2020 article on The Don of Diamond Dreams confirmed that Tendai Maraire was no longer part of Shabazz Palaces.[11]

Style and influences[edit]

Butler notes that the work of Shabazz Palaces differs from his previous work stylistically. He cites his primary influences as "abstract", pulling from podcasts and mixtapes. Butler attributes the use of African percussion and jazz overtones to his family's musical preferences.[12]


Studio albums


  1. ^ "27/09/2011, Lauren Laverne - BBC Radio 6 Music". BBC. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  2. ^ "Video: 'The King's New Clothes...' on YTGVB". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 25, 2011. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Shabazz Palaces - Black Up". UnderTheRadarNZ. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  4. ^ Matson, Andrew (December 24, 2011). "Best pop music 2011: Seattle and beyond". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
  5. ^ Drake, David (2014-05-02). "Shabazz Palaces' New Album "Lese Majesty" Release Date Announced". Complex. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  6. ^ Andrew Matson (2012-10-01). "Download this: Chimurenga Renaissance's 'Pungwe' mixtape". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  7. ^ "Pungwe, by Chimurenga Renaissance". Chimurenga Renaissance. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  8. ^ "Okayafrica Audio: Chimurenga Renaissance- "The B.A.D. Is So Good" Okayplayer". 11 February 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  9. ^ "Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema, by Chimurenga Renaissance". Chimurenga Renaissance. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  10. ^ "Listen to Chimurenga Renaissance's Girlz With Gunz EP - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  11. ^ Amin, Tayyab (16 April 2020). "Shabazz Palaces: The Don of Diamond Dreams – alchemy in a world of algorithms". The Guardian. This article was updated on Thursday 16 April to reflect that Tendai Maraire is no longer part of Shabazz Palaces.
  12. ^ "Shabazz Palaces is a heavy Afro-celestial experience". 5 February 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2017.

External links[edit]