Live: Shabazz Palaces Bring A Party To Fort Greene Park

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Shabazz Palaces w/THEESatisfaction
Fort Greene Park
Tuesday, July 24

Better than: An evening lazin' in the park.

As a longtime resident of Fort Greene, I've gotten used to changes. (Insert standard gentrification gripe here.) They don't tend to come without warning, though, so when I stepped away from the hanging-in-the-grass vibe in Fort Greene Park yesterday between sets by THEESatisfaction and Shabazz Palaces, I probably shouldn't have been surprised to come back in the middle of an everybody-on-your-feet throwdown. Wish I could tell y'all how it went from one to the other. The only certainty is that In the ten-minute space I used to pedal (furiously, I might add) home to my own bathroom, Shabazz Palaces managed to get all these folks who seemed to be chillin' on blankets at girl duo THEESatisfaction's stoned soul picnic not only standing, but pushed right up against the stage.

They stayed that way, for obvious reasons. I think somewhere in there a metaphor exists for how Ishmael Butler, the MC-lyricist half of Shabazz Palaces, transformed himself from the groove-juice sipping Butterfly of Digable Planets to his current electro-charged alter-ego Palaceer Lazaro. Having vacated an apartment right near Fort Greene Park around the time Digable called it quits back in 1996, Butler has been putting things together from Seattle—where he was a basketball star in high school—ever since. Folks like to point out that his parents were boho/Marxist/whatever when that actually meant something, and though his music reflects that as much now as it did in the '90s, it'd probably be a mistake to look at Lazaro as anything more than a persona Butler is damn good at fleshing out.

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Ten Steps To Shabazz Palaces: Tracing Ishmael Butler's Path Between Digable Planets And The Present

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Back in the early '90s, Ishmael Butler came to rap prominence as Butterfly in the group Digable Planets. These days, he's taken on the moniker Palaceer Lazaro and records as the lead voice in Sub Pop's first hip-hop signing, Shabazz Palaces. It's a metamorphosis that Butler has left deliberately shady, refusing to flesh out the biographical details between his two rap lives and leaving Shabazz Palaces' history defined largely by anonymity. But while it's tempting to use some sort of cocoon metaphor to describe Butler's grand artistic reinvention, he's left behind a trail of musical crumbs and curios that map out his gradual development.

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