Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces Discusses New Music, Influences

Ishmael Talks Seattle Hip-Hop, New Shabazz Palaces LP + More

Ishmael Butler Shabazz Palaces

The category-defying quality of Shabazz Palaces unconventional hip-hop/jazz/electro-orientalist sound is one of the things we love most about the group, so its no surprise (and no shots) that group leader Ishmael Butler refuses to give a straightforward (or short-winded) interview when discussing his work. Butler, formerly of Digable Planets, recently gave a compelling (and yeah, also vague and esoteric) interview with Hypetrak, but what his answers lack in concrete info they certainly make up for in interesting reflections on the state of the music industry today, how the internet has changed regional hip-hop, and what motivates him and his collaborative to make music. The best news comes with a degree of certainty, when he states that Shabazz Palaces are currently working on a new album, so there’s also that. Check out a few highlights below, and head to HT to read the full interview.

Geographically, cities or regions tend to have a sort of unified style. Seattle hip-hop doesn’t have that at all.

A lot of that though, is because of the internet. Before the internet you didn’t really read about other things. Your city was your world. Now with the internet, your city is just a point of departure for that. Now you find that real distinct characteristics are falling away because marketers, promoters, and people selling clothes and lifestyle stuff are trying to reach everybody at once and they’re doing it over the internet. That kind of local flavor is being killed off by that and I think that trickles down into everything.

At the very least, do you think there are experiences that lead you to create and think in the way that you do?

I don’t know man. I can’t point it to one thing. It’s so broad to ascribe so much weight to one thing. To me, that would be a disservice. I think people say shit like that to help create this myth and then associate it with broad amounts of people to further their own trajectory.

Why did you pick music over all of those things?

Music chose me. This is what happens to me. If you’re into art of some kind, you find yourself compelled to do [art] often regardless of responsibility, health, all reason. You find some way of making a beat. Music finds you. Or, it found me. It made me the way I am because of the way that I feel when I do it.

props to HT

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