Boomkat Product Review:
Ishamael Butler surveys the rap timeline on 'Robed in Rareness', bringing in assists from his son Lil Tracy, DJ Mustard protege Royce The Choice, Porter Ray, Lavarr The Starr, Denver's O Finesse and Camp Lo's Geechi Suede.
Always worthy of a close examination, Butler's output has been keeping rap's deep listeners satiated for decades at this point - first when he was a member of NYC three-piece Digable Planets, and latterly as Shabazz Palaces. Since Tendai Maraire departed in 2020, Butler has handled Shabazz Palaces alone, so on 'Robed in Rareness' he calls up a team of old collaborators and fresh inspirations to help him take a faded snapshot of rap's past, present and future. On 'Scarface Mace', Denver rapper O Finesse rhymes in a hoarse, low register over Butler's sparse, heaving drums; cosmic and spindly, it's like vintage RZA production slowed down to a sub 33RPM skulk, with soulful Blaxploitation flick fanfares mangled into glittery groans.
Butler's closer to the present reality on 'Binoculars', choosing Seattle's Royce The Choice to spar with and accompanying the jittery wordplay with ring modulated Soundcloud rap knocks, while the hypnagogic 'Woke Up In A Dream' provides a wide open space for Lil Tracy's slurred sneers, that Butler drowns in dungeon reverb and juxtaposes with G-funk squelches. Our pick of the lot is 'Cinnamon Bun', a weightless post-Neptunes slosher that features a confident performance from Lavarr the Starr, who's signed to Butler's own Glass Cane imprint.