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Black Up

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Black Up is the 2011 sonic move from Shabazz Palaces. Luxury as understood by the modest. Shabazz Palaces. If Bedouins herded beats instead of goats and settled in Seattle instead of the Atlas Mountains, this would be their album. Hip hop. Black light uses electromagnetic radiation to eradicate microorganisms, but shabazz didn't come to kill a sound, just to shine their own incandescent lamp on this. Hear. Hard and clear. Fifty thousand years in the making. Honorable. Produced by Knife Knights at Gunbeat Serenade Studio in Outplace Palacelands. It was recorded and mixed in Lixx-alog by Blood.

Review

"Black Up impresses most with its beguiling sounds, especially the verdant keyboard washes of "Are You...Can You...Were You? (Felt)"..." --Spin
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 28, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sub Pop
  • ASIN: B004USRLP0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,905 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I have to admit up front: I am not a big fan of hip hop. I got into De La Soul and the Digable Planets and other acts like that, but over time, I just gave up on it. I like catchy or trippy non-homophobic music, like Bjork, and there wasn't enough hip hop out there that got me going.

But this album, I was curious about because it was from the main guy in Digable Planets, and he happens to live in my home town. I picked up Black Up when it came out and I was not disappointed in the least. If you like intricate production, intense music, and a healthy dollop of stereo separation, this CD is for you. Plus, I like figuring out what this guy is saying (or at least, trying to figure it out). This Shabazz Palaces guy lives in his own universe, but one that is mysterious and filled with cool sounds and interesting words. This is an egg I am having fun cracking.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I first put this album into my rotation, it sat around, not quite hooking quickly, but by the second full listen it struck me hard. Black Up is almost completely unlike anything out there in the hip hop spectrum right now. Throughout the 10 songs presented here, simple beats highlighted by electronic flourishes (almost dubstepesque) compliment a very smooth flow and intelligent lyrics.

Not only that, but the album holds a very spacy sound enhanced by a rich sonic atmosphere of odd, trippy effects (both in the beats AND the vocals). Hooks are abound in many of the tracks (my favorite being in Swerve, near the end), and stand out among each other.

Black Up certainly isn't for everyone, and those not looking for a challenging listen may be alienated from it's out there sound, but for those willing to put in a small amount of time for it to sink in, it's well worth it.

9/10 (or 5 stars)
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
This album has everything I never knew I wanted in a hip hop album. Every Tuesday I scour the latest hip hop releases searching for something that offers more than the mainstream traditional hip-POP that has become pervasive in the hip hop world. This Tuesday I struck gold with this album.

The beats are where this album truly shines. From the first track you can hear the creative experimentation that is the backbone of the album. There is a noticeable jazz influence interwoven with synths and bass. At times unpredictable, the rhythms and drumbeats give this album a rich complexity that is quite enjoyable.

If you want something different from traditional hip hop - And probably a little ahead of its time - you should definitely get this album.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
(I wrote this review previously for a blog called Oh So Fresh! Music, check it out sometime ohsofreshmusic.com)

When I first heard Seattle-based experimental rap crew Shabazz Palaces's first two mini albums, Of Light and the self-titled, last summer, I immediately fell for their innovative beats and production and Ishmael Butler's excellent rapping over top of it. As soon as I heard "Kill White T", I could tell these guys were going places and I was excited for anything they were going to come out with in the future. I don't think I fully realized their potential, or the potential of their unique sound, though. It wasn't until I heard the first single, "An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum", from their Sub Pop debut, Black Up, that I realized they were taking rap to a place that it hasn't really gone before.

There have been plenty of rap artists in the last ten years that have tried to experiment with their sound as much as possible while still keeping all the elements of a good hip-hop song intact. MF DOOM/Madvillain, Outkast, and J Dilla are a few that were good at fitting all kinds of strange samples and rhythmic left turns into their songs while still maintaining what makes people listen to hip-hop in the first place, great beats and killer verses over top of them. But, Shabazz Palaces's experiments differ from those other artists partly because they are making music in a different time, and they have the advantage of perspective. There's been a lot of really interesting developments in experimental electronic-based music recently.

One album I think is a major reference point for Black Up (and I could be completely wrong here) is Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. I see that album as somewhat of a paradigm shift for music production.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I stand by this as one of the most creative, innovative, and captivating rap albums of the century. Even to this day, Shabazz Palaces sound like they were beamed in from another planet with the bizarre, shifting, rhythmic sounds of Black Up. However, this is definitely not a top ten banger album, so I would recommend it mostly for serious hip hop fans who are willing to give this a few listens and let it grow on them. You will be well rewarded.
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This is out there for real %$#@! I was listening to my Cheerywine album and thought wonder if there is another record out, that is when I stumbled upon this. It hits you hard and right where you want it to. After you listen to the whole record, you may just get dressed all GQ smooth and go out and tell everybody or anybody, in the most gangster way, how you really feel. Shabazz.
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