Photo: Patrick O'Brien Smith

Shabazz Palaces – “Dawn in Luxor” (Singles Going Steady)

"Luxor" seems like an Afro-futurist ether-world, a place where oppressed populations can congregate and, if necessary, escape to.

Pryor Stroud: “Dawn in Luxor” is the introductory track from Shabazz Palaces’ second and last proper LP Lese Majesty. The track doesn’t pop into view, it fades in, a slow-moving agglomeration of spaceship wreckage and nebula dust drifting through an atmosphere-plane so cold that all life shrivels within it. But then the verse begins, and your perspective is thrown for a loop: where are we? Are we looking down from space or on earth gazing up? Unfortunately, the lyric doesn’t have any answers; it speaks in tongues, cryptic hip-hop codices and avant-rap tangents, conjuring-up more mystery and intrigue than authentic actuality. However, if you pay attention to the words, there seems to an inter-dimensional mythology growing here. “From out the water’s wall / From Luxor to heavens in the sprawl”, Ishmael Butler drones, but, between his lips, “Luxor” doesn’t seem like an ancient Egyptian city or even a Vegas casino, it seems like an Afro-futurist ether-world, a place where oppressed populations can congregate and, if necessary, escape to. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: “Dawn in Luxor” is the hip-hop equivalent of taking a trip into space, and basking in the universe’s sublime beauty. The beat is light and ethereal, while the soft, delicate melody underneath it delivers the beauty and elegance. Shabazz Palaces’ verses feel a bit irrelevant, however, since they are drowned out in the vast emptiness of the instrumental. While “Dawn in Luxor” lacks any interesting turns or twists that would make it a dynamic song, it paints a grandiose, gorgeous landscape that one can’t help but smile at. [6/10]

Chris Ingalls: So what’s the deal here? Shabazz Palaces are pulling a 2014 track out of the attic in order to make a new video? Can I just review the song? I hate reviewing videos. Having said that, I really like what Shabazz Palaces does here, adding unique layers to hip-hop. The gloomy keyboards mesh with the booming beats and rhymes, giving the track an almost prog feel. It’s certainly not something you can easily dance to or even blast from an open car without getting weird looks. But that’s OK. Weird is good. [8/10]

Chad Miller: The opening production is pretty cool. I didn’t like how distant Butler’s vocals sounded even though it matched the whole space sounding theme, I would have much preferred the vocals to be more present. It also didn’t help sell the pauses in the music. There wasn’t much of a reason for them musically since the background music didn’t really change, and if there was an emotional reason for them, it didn’t come through. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.00