Shabazz Palaces

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Shabazz Palaces
OriginSeattle, Washington, United States
Years active2009–present
LabelsSub Pop, Third Man
Associated acts
Past members
  • Tendai Maraire

Shabazz Palaces is an American hip hop duo from Seattle composed of Ishmael Butler a.k.a. Palaceer Lazaro (formerly Butterfly of jazz rap group Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire, son of mbira master Dumisani Maraire.[1][2] Active since 2009, they have released four studio albums on Sub Pop. Their most recent album, The Don of Diamond Dreams, was released on April 17, 2020.[3]


The pair anonymously self-released two EPs, Eagles Soar, Oil Flows and The Seven New (referred to as Shabazz Palaces and Of Light, respectively) in 2009 before becoming one of the few hip-hop acts to be signed to the Sub Pop label and releasing its debut full-length album, Black Up to wide critical acclaim in 2011.[4] Black Up was listed #1 in Seattle Times music columnist Andrew Matson's "Local Top #10" of 2011.[5]

The duo released its second album, Lese Majesty, on July 29, 2014.[6] The album was first premiered at Seattle's Pacific Science Center Laser Dome in April 2014.

In February 2016, Butler announced that the duo were working on a new record, which Butler described as being about "our relationship with devices. Not just our reliance on technological devices, but the ways they make us live and present and manipulate yourself."[7]

In April 2017, Sub Pop announced the July 14 release of Shabazz Palaces' third studio album Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star. This was followed two weeks later with the announcement of Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, the group's fourth album and "monozygotic twin" to Gangster Star, scheduled for simultaneous release along with a short film directed by Nep Sidhu, and a limited-run book illustrated by Joshua Ray Stephens.

Shabazz Palaces curated part of the program for the Dutch Le Guess Who? festival.


Shabazz Palaces frequently collaborate with and remix other artists, in the latter case often reinventing entire tracks. Notable collaborations are the supergroup WOKE, formed with Flying Lotus and Thundercat. To date WOKE have released one single, "The Lavishments of Light Looking", featuring George Clinton. Shabazz Palaces have also contributed to numerous Theesatisfaction and Porter Ray releases.

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.[8][9] They released their full-length debut album riZe vadZimu riZe on March 25, 2014.[10] Two EPs followed: Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema on February 3, 2015, and Girlz With Gunz on February 5, 2016.[11][12]

Shabazz Palaces are part of Black Constellation, a collective of visual artists, fashion designers, and musicians.

They are also featuring on Battles' 2012 remix album Dross Glop; charged with remixing the track "White Electric", and collaborated on the track "IZM" on Battles' 2019 album Juice B Crypts.

As of April 16, 2020 Tendai Maraire is no longer part of Shabazz Palaces.[13]

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.[14]


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. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Inbox Jukebox Track of the Day: The Woozy New Age Funk of "Fast Learner" by Hip-hop Innovators Shabazz Palaces". The Stranger. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  4. ^ "Shabazz Palaces - Black Up". UnderTheRadarNZ. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  5. ^ Matson, Andrew (December 24, 2011). "Best pop music 2011: Seattle and beyond". Seattle Times. Retrieved December 24, 2011.
  6. ^ Drake, David (2014-05-02). "Shabazz Palaces' New Album "Lese Majesty" Release Date Announced". Complex. Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  7. ^ Rolland, David. "Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler Hints At New Digable Planets Material". New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  8. ^ Andrew Matson (2012-10-01). "Download this: Chimurenga Renaissance's 'Pungwe' mixtape". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  9. ^ "Pungwe, by Chimurenga Renaissance". Chimurenga Renaissance. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  10. ^ "Okayafrica Audio: Chimurenga Renaissance- "The B.A.D. Is So Good" Okayplayer". Retrieved 2014-07-29.
  11. ^ "Kudada Nekuva Munhu Mutema, by Chimurenga Renaissance". Chimurenga Renaissance. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  12. ^ "Listen to Chimurenga Renaissance's Girlz With Gunz EP - The Wire". The Wire Magazine - Adventures In Modern Music. Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ "Shabazz Palaces is a heavy Afro-celestial experience". 5 February 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2017.

External links[edit]