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Shabazz Palaces-Swerve


I find it rather entertaining when names of genres arise that are downright outlandish–names meant to describe a very unique sound but just ultimately end up sounding pretty unappealing–names like break dance-core or breakfast-pop.

This sort of playful sound branding has been parodied by many in the music world–especially by bands marketed towards younger audiences who create their own silly genre name for a few laughs and fun.

I remember one of my first college courses–Live Music Production–in which one of the students was educating my professor on what “Math Core” rock was, which then led to a rather pretentious and pointless debate amongst my classmates about what bands were “true” Math Core bands and which ones weren’t.

My deepest apologies for all you Math Core-Heads out there.

Anyhow, I find it interesting that one would even need to come up with a new label for a genre. You flip through the radio and technically you have your country western, rock and roll, and rap–so what does this say about music today?

It actually says leaps and bounds. It is saying that there are artists today that are combining genres norms and doing things that can’t be labeled by well..a label.

When I first read the Youtube comments for Shabazz Palaces’ Swerve, I knew it was going to be a great one.

The comments consisted of listeners trying to brand the song– names like “Electro-hop” and “Electroic-psy-backpack-hop” were two.. and uh..yikes.. I was a bit deterred by the attempts at labeling the tune until another user simply said, “Nah, this is just hip-hop and what it’s meant to sound like- plain and simple”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Hip-Hop has always been an experimental art form, with MC’s testing their boundaries by using whatever they can to turn heads–things such as samples, new instruments, and varying rhyme techniques just to name a few.

So Shabazz Palaces new track may seem unique but it certainly falls in to the category of “true hip hop” because hip hop has always been about testing limits and trying new things– something that this piece certainly does.

The beat of the song starts off rather sparse, a simple bass and snare groove but with an electronic effect added in.

The beat smoothly transitions into a laid back vocal and synth sample that remains constant but proves complimentary rather than distracting–which is a common problem with rap groups that tend to use techno/electro samples–though not the case here, the electronic beats in Swerve give the song it’s unique and catchy flavor.

The on-point rapping verses leads into a beautifully sung hook–and then the same laid back, feel good paced rapping we heard in the beginning, the varying pieces of the song could easily have been inconsistent–but it remains smooth and steady. The song ultimately concludes with a multi voiced vocal track laced with a drum heavy back beat that wonderfully brings the song to a close.

Definitely a great track from Sub Pop records, the label that is notorious for supporting youth music movements and the same guys that brought us artists like Nirvana and Sound Garden but also The Shins and Fleet Foxes–and it looks like they are giving us another great act with Shabazz Palaces.

So check ’em out for some true hip hop at it’s very best.

Image Courtesy: The Stranger

  1. Matthew Planchard
    06/07/2011 at 8:38 am

    Is there anywhere I can buy this single? I really like it.

    • 06/07/2011 at 1:03 pm

      Hmm. I have searched for a single too but can’t find it.

      I know that the album is released June 28th, I’ll let ya know if I can find a single though.

      Thanks so much, Matt for your support!

  2. Matthew Planchard
    06/07/2011 at 1:15 pm

    You’re welcome! Let me know if you find anything! Thanks!

  3. 06/07/2011 at 3:07 pm

    Hey, thanks for the comment on my blog! That’s awesome that you’re doing some work for the Givers…I actually discovered them on npr.com’s “First Listen” section, where you can preview upcoming albums. The Cults were featured on there as well. I’m looking forward to some good new music this summer!

  4. 06/10/2011 at 7:55 pm

    I need to keep my eye on this artist.

  1. 06/20/2011 at 3:52 pm

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