Shabazz Palaces: Tiny Desk Concert Hip-hop's otherworldly lot touches down on Bob Boilen's desk for some Afrofuturistic mind travel.

Tiny Desk

Shabazz Palaces

"... Only the exalted come in and rock with us."

With those words, spoken in the opening moments of Shabazz Palaces' Tiny Desk performance, Palaceer Lazaro (aka Ishmael Butler, also of Digable Planets fame) lays the ground rules for all present to enter the group's metaphysical headspace.

And, man, talk about being transported to the other side. It's impossible not to envision the Seattle studio, Black Space Labs, where Shabazz's otherworldly soundscapes emerge to provide the ideal backdrop for shining a light on the fake.

From the beginning, with 2011's Black Up, Shabazz's practice has been steeped in black magic of a different order. The same proves true on its latest two releases, the conceptual Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines and Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star. Leave it to hip-hop's unorthodox lot to conceive an ambitious pairing that launches the narrative's protagonist on an interstellar journey far from home. It's the perfect proxy for the growing sense of alienation we're all suffering, to some degree or another, in today's space and time.

While the premise of Tiny Desk usually involves artists stripping down their set, Shabazz Palaces' entire steelo is about unplugging from the metaphorical matrix, and sometimes a hybrid of digital-analog plugins is exactly what it takes to navigate alternate dimensions.

Set List

  • "Colluding Oligarchs"
  • "They Come In Gold"
  • "Shine A Light"

Musicians

Ishmael Butler, Tendai Maraire, Otis Calvin

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineers: Suraya, James Willetts, Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, Niki Walker, Bronson Arcuri; Production Assistant: Kara Frame.

For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Theodore performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 27, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Theodore

The music of Theodore is dark and transformative, with the kind of spare elegance you can hear in Sigur Rós or Pink Floyd.

Gary Clark Jr. performs a Tiny Desk Concert on April 1, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Gary Clark Jr.

These three songs, from Clark's incendiary new album This Land, roar with the assurance and force of a showman at the top of his game.

Karine Polwart Trio performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 22, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Karine Polwart Trio

Scottish singer, songwriter and essayist Karine Polwart seldom comes stateside, eschewing air travel to reduce her carbon footprint. But on a rare, recent visit, she stopped in D.C. for a Tiny Desk.

Georgia Anne Muldrow performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 26, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Georgia Anne Muldrow

The R&B singer from Los Angeles is all about showing and spreading love.

Courtney Marie Andrews performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 2, 2019 (NPR). NPR hide caption

toggle caption NPR

Courtney Marie Andrews

It was a day when sunlight drenched the office and the songs of heart from Courtney Marie Andrews felt right at home.

Weezer performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 27, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

Weezer

Performing unplugged, the band forgoes its usual meticulousness in favor of a shaggy, entirely acoustic mix of new songs and '90s-era deep cuts.

Andrea Cruz performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 4, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Andrea Cruz

The singer from Puerto Rico is part of a movement on the island that emphasizes largely acoustic instruments and a folk-based approach to interpreting life before and after the hurricane of 2017.

&More performs a Tiny Desk Concert on March 4, 2019 (Amr Alfiky/NPR). Amr Alfiky/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Amr Alfiky/NPR

&More (Chill Moody & Donn T)

Philadelphia Rapper Chill Moody and singer Donn T, along with their crew known as &More, were one of the standout entrants in last year's Tiny Desk Contest. They bring a message of hope and love.

Back To Top