When: Thu., April 5, 9 p.m. 2012
A few years ago every music writer in Seattle was talking about an act called Shabazz Palaces, but it wasn't till around the time the buzz culminated in a deal with Sub Pop that I figured out the group's front man is Ishmael Butler, aka Butterfly from Digable Planets. Aside from the early-aughts project Cherrywine, which is better left forgotten, Butler hasn't been heard from much since Digable's brilliant but underselling 1994 album, Blowout Comb. But Shabazz Palaces' Black Up proves that he spent his time out of the spotlight wisely, developing skills rather than going soft. Over sparsely funky beats by multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire—they combine the tones of vintage Detroit techno with the fractured rhythmic play of avant-dubsteppers like Burial—Butler spits tangled knots of words with a matter-of-factness that puts MCs a decade younger to shame. A live session for KEXP—available on YouTube and as a 12-inch EP that comes out on Record Store Day—proves that anyone who thinks live hip-hop needs a horn section and a corny-ass jazz bassist in order to be good is still dead wrong. —Miles Raymer Chandeliers open.