“We be to rap what key be to lock” – a powerful phrase taken from Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat). It earned Ismael Butler’s Digable Planets a Grammy in 1992, but the line still rings true years later.
Butler continues to open doors with Shabazz Palaces. Black Up and Lese Majesty are masterworks: bold, strange, dense with ideas, and compelling. Now, we’re gifted with not one but two new records. Suddenly the universe feels larger again, with the turning of more keys in locks.
Digable Planets’ debut was Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space). The phrase borrows from Jorge Luis Borges, an Argentinian author who penned many mind-expanding essays, including Nueva refutación del tiempo (“A New Refutation of Time”). His short story TlÜn, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius also echoes in the work of Shabazz Palaces, a fascinating tale of a fabricated world written in precise academic detail. Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines and Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star merge imagined and material planes. Infused with jazz, soul and funk, the albums arrive from a fictive future, chronicles of a sentient entity (Quazarz) sent from “elsewhere” to document the land of ‘Amurderca’. What does Quazarz find? Brutality, captivity and transient truth. A full report is revealed, with a slow turning key, across both records.
Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines are out July 14 via Sub Pop/Inertia.