Five albums deep and still breaking boundaries...

“This is high art!” Shabazz Palaces bark on ‘Chocolate Souffle’. And they're completely, utterly correct.

‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ does feel like a culmination of a decade’s work. This is the first release from the afro-futurist duo since 2017’s twin projects ‘Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star' and ‘Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines’. That was a sprawling double album that whilst being jaw dropping in scope, slightly missed the mark that their previous albums had hit.

But its three years later. Everything has changed since then, and so have Shabazz Palaces. As ‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ shows a more focused Shabazz Palaces.

The album opens with ‘Portal North: Panthera’. Shimmering synths cascade over stuttering drums and dank basslines. This is the backbone of the track. Over this sparse, yet cerebral, lyrics float, gently drifting down. It shows that this is the same Shabazz Palace of yore, but they’ve moved forward, evolved, as all great artists need to. And on ‘The Don of Diamond Dreams’ Shabazz Palaces are evolving into a great act.

Purple Tape Nate guests on ‘Fast Learner’. His inclusion injects a different tone to the album, but his cultural viewpoint adds a different perspective too. He is reflective, yet positive.

Positivity seems from every pore of the album. ‘Bad Bitch Walking’ is the catchiest track on the album. Lowtempo beats. Glistening synths. P-Funk basslines. Again, the guest sport from Stas THEE Boss adds different colour and texture to the proceedings.

‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ is the most consistent album Butler has released to date. In the past they have had the tendency to lose track of the overall vision - 2017's ‘Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star' and ‘Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines’ weren’t as cohesive as they could have been.However, ‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ is a lithe affair, mixing Butler’s ear for a killer bassline and off kilter beats to new uncharted regions.

The album works best when Butler just lays down a phat bassline and just goes with it. ‘Wet’ is a prime example of this. What ‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ shows is that Shabazz Palaces are master craftsmen. They have been releasing forward thinking albums for the best part of a decade. Each one is a step forward, musically or lyrically, but on ‘The Don of Diamond Dreams’ the jump is in unison.

What is most remarkable is how on their fifth album Shabazz Palaces are still hungry. Still pushing themselves. Still looking for that perfect hook, beat and flow. And it shows. How many hip-hop acts release five albums and... Scratch that. Let’s not get genre-ist.

How many acts release five albums and how many out of that are still as current and relevant as on their debut? Not many. Shabazz Palaces have now joined a rare breed of artists. ‘The Don Of Diamond Dreams’ is a glorious album that yields more and more with each listen. And listen you need to, because if you don’t you might miss something. 

8/10

Words: Nick Roseblade

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