The sunny ’70s beat of experimental stoner rap group Shabazz Palaces’ incredible new track “Shine a Light” is rendered a shade darker with this newly-dropped video—a black-and-white Wicker Man throwback where a diverse group of hippie farmers stone a mutant goat man-baby.
Fronted by Digable Planets’ acerbic wordsmith Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Shabazz Palaces just released the incomparably brilliant new double LP Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. Currently on a whirlwind worldwide live tour, Butler took a few moments to chat with HIGH TIMES before bathing in a mountainside pool.
Ishmael Butler: Ali, see how much it is and I’ll pay for it, all right? But save the receipt.
HT: What are you guys getting?
Butler: Bout to jump in these hot springs down here in – where we at?
Well I just wanted to take a few minutes to ask you some questions.
You’ve been on the scene since Digable Planets dropped its first album, Reachin. Since 1992, what’s the biggest change in your approach to music?
Moving from more of a like a planned-out mapped-out approach to more like a pre-instinctive approach.
And how does that manifest in the music itself?
I mean, I can hear it in the music myself.
(laughs) Yeah, yeah. It’s many falls, you know what I mean? And then when you fall back, you fall that many times again.
You’re touring extensively through November 12. How does your approach to presenting the material change from the studio and live audience?
Recording is just like a point of departure for the live performance. So we kind of do the songs like they are on the album, then we change it up a lot as well. We do a lot of improvisation and modification. All kinds of different stuff. So the tracks are often quite different than in the studio.
Just because I’m a Green Lantern fan, is the song “Parallax” in reference to his main villain?
“Parallax” is situations from different viewpoints—changing the angle in which you view situations, results, reasons.
So a quasar is a ring of fire in distant space that burns around infinite sucking darkness. How does the title refer to the material on the album?
It reflects human beings and our consciousness and the way that we go through life. Like we are full of explosions and birthing of newborn stars in terms of ideas. Also there’s black holes in the spaces that are uncharted and unexplored. So I saw that as having a direct equation to humans and what’s it like figuring out and navigating through life.
Shabazz Palaces plays tonight in San Francisco, Saturday in Los Angeles, then extensively across the U.S. and Europe. Get tickets here.
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