Song of the Day: Shabazz Palaces – Free Press and Curl (Live at KEXP)

photo by Dave Lichterman

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. This Thanksgiving week, KEXP is extending a hearty “thanks” to all of the local bands who’ve performed live at the our studios this year with a few of our favorites. Today’s selection, which aired live on the Midday Show, with Cheryl Waters on June 28, is “Free Press and Curl” by Shabazz Palaces, originally appearing on their 2011 album Black Up on Sub Pop.

Shabazz Palaces – Free Press and Curl (MP3)

Leading off the week of some of our favorite in-studios with local performers this year is KEXP’s favorite spooky rap duo Shabazz Palaces. The hip-hop collective, consisting of Palaceer Lazaro (a.k.a. Ishmael Butler) and Tendai Maraire, first appeared on the scene in 2009 with two anonymous EPs, known as Shabazz Palaces and Of Light. It wasn’t long before venerable local label Sub Pop Records recognized their talent and signed them to be their first hip-hop act. Black Up is the debut full-length, and it’s a whirlwind of tempo changes, darkwave synths, and minimal drum hits all underscored by occasionally surreal lyricism. Maraire is especially good at providing worldly percussion drawing on spheres of influence from across the globe, adding another alien, mystical element to the group’s already-alien pursuits.

This is especially evident on today’s track, a performance of the album opener of Black Up that hits hard and sinks deep, perfectly showcasing the band’s talent. The tune starts razor-sharp with grumbling bass inflections, but before long the Palaces’ club-ready rhymes give way to a slowdance graveyard jam that’s as hip-shaking as it is emotionally affecting.

Watch the band perform the track live in the KEXP studios below, and be sure to check out their website. And don’t forget, you can find more more KEXP in-studios here.

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