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Shabazz Palaces | The Don Of Diamond Dreams

Butterfly introduces the Don of a new era — and makes an offer you can't refuse.

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THE PRESS RELEASE: “Cruise the city in a night ship, dressed to kill in the Seville. Float down waterfalls and fountains, reclined on some pimp shit. The time zone ghost returns to paint a picture that echoes through infinity. The sun is put to rest, the soliloquy is killer bee. A diamond purpose lying beneath the surface. Nothing is ever what it seems, but forever is the theme. It’s time. Shabazz Palaces are back with yet another classic of divine mathematics design. More dazzling Afrofuturist sutras to illuminate distant constellations with sacred abstractions. Enter The Don of Diamond Dreams, raw and uncut, but glowing with 10,000 karat shine. It remains impossible to accurately describe a Shabazz Palaces album without lapsing into cosmic tropes. Yet sometimes clichés are stand-ins for eternal truths. Therein, The Don of Diamond Dreams embodies a futuristic manifestation of ancient myth, full of robotic vocoder and warped auto-tune, Funkadelic refracted into different dimensions, weird portals and warm nocturnal joy rides alongside the coast (a reflection of it being mixed near the beach in California). The synthesizers are alien but the drums speak a universal language. It is hip-hop, dub, jazz, R&B, soul, funk, African, experimental, and occasionally even pop. But over the course of five albums, Shabazz Palaces have conceived the fluid boundaries of their own one-band genre. In some respects, it’s difficult to consider the possibility that this might be the best Shabazz Palaces album yet. Very few musicians have ever peaked in their fifth decade on earth, but whoever said they were actually from earth? It’s wrong to say that Shabazz Palaces have gone beyond the looking glass. This time they’ve shattered it entirely and created a brilliant new universe in each one of the shards.”

MY TWO CENTS: Call it the Don of a new era. According to some reports, multi-instrumentalist Tendai “Baba” Maraire was not involved in the making of the fifth Shabazz Palaces album The Don Of Diamond Dreams, leaving vocalist and producer Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler as the sole remaining member of the Seattle crew. It seems to have pushed him in a darker, funkier direction, leaning more toward subdued, restrained George Clintonesque funk than the jazzier Sun Ra-style fare of old. Whatever is behind the change, it’s for the better: This low, slow and seductively smooth entry is an offer you can’t refuse.