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The Seattle rap duo stay weird without losing their edge, with two concept albums about a visitor from space – Quazars: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines
In years to come, when the career of the Seattle rap duo Shabazz Palaces is viewed through a historical lens, it may well be opined that these third and fourth albums were substantially more straightforward, even more commercial, than their predecessor, 2014’s Lese Majesty. Said opinion would be correct, although it’s worth noting that these two interlinking conceptual works about an alien called Quazarz (“a sentient being from somewhere else, an observer sent here to Amurderca to chronicle and explore as a musical emissary”, explains the accompanying blurb) involve muffled, lo-fi instrumentals; tracks that sound like several entirely unconnected pieces of music spliced together; and at least one song on which the rapping appears to be in a different time signature to the backing track. Among a panoply of obscure special guests is the Shogun Shot, who raps with a pronounced lisp, and a man who calls himself Fly Guy Dai, a name that carries the suggestion, alas unfounded, that he might be from Aberystwyth.
So a judgment on the relative commerciality of these albums tells you rather more about how wilfully abstruse the music on Lese Majesty was, than about the potential of Quazarz: Born On a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines to unseat Ed Sheeran from the top of the album charts.