The Don of Diamond Dreams

Sub Pop

Intergalactic hip-hop extraordinaires Shabazz Palaces mixed their new album near a beach in California, so it’s unsurprising that it feels like a soundtrack for driving along the coast at the end of the world. 

It’s been a decade since the debut of Ishmael Butler– formerly of Digable Planets– and Tendai “Baba” Maraire. The Don of Diamond Dreams is their most refined exploration to date.

Delicate distortions and spaced-out synths shape a masterpiece of “divine mathematics”– a phrase coined in “Ad Ventures,” which feels emblematic of the duo’s work as a whole.

FeaturingPurple Nape Tate, “Fast Learner” is the mesmerizing swing of a pendulum, while “Wet”– produced to sound as though it was recorded underwater– is a hypermodern freestyle punctuated by rippling R&B instrumental riffs.

“Thanking the Girls” slows it down, making space for Butler to pay respect to the women who have shaped his world– from those who have come and gone to his two daughters. Featuring saxophonist Carlos Overall, closing track “Reg Walks By The Looking Glass” is a jazz-infused lullaby.

Butler is quick to acknowledge, “It’s a New Age,” and it truly is. The otherworldly sound of Shabazz Palaces has never felt more timely.

Best Track: “Fast Learner”

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