Shabazz Palaces have a backstory fit for Dostoevsky. You might remember frontman Ishmael Butler from his former gig as one of the three Digable Planets, the early '90s jazz rap titans who tutored the world on the essence of "Cool Like Dat." (For those with short memories, it was the "swag" of its day.)
Their unsung sophomore masterpiece, "Blowout Comb," found them subjected to the hip-hop equivalent of the execution of the Petrashevsky. Doomed for turning in a politically radical album when gangsta posturing ruled, EMI dropped them after the album failed to register commercially.
Butler endured a decade-plus sojourn in a metaphorical Siberia, recording a series of barely heard projects that were inevitably described (if mentioned at all) as "being by the guy who used to be in Digable Planets -- whatever happened to them?" The answer came last year when Shabazz Palaces emerged from the (relative) hip-hop hinterlands of Seattle. Music writers from the region began breathlessly hyping them as the most exciting local rap group in decades, and when Sir Mix-A-Lot is universally regarded as the gold standard, it wasn't much of a stretch.