Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, the first of twin 2017 releases from Shabazz Palaces, isn’t a traditional record: This is a visceral auditory experience. It blows up every preconception you had about music. As you read this review on your “glowing phantom limb …swiping all the time,” consider the following description: Try as you might, you will struggle to latch onto a center in this music. It moves, certainly, it shimmies and sways, it has beats-per-minute, yes—though rarely the same from bar-to-bar. These are sounds you experience emerging from your bones at a cellular level rather than, say, through your ears as all other music has worked for millennia. There are moments on this record, especially at the right volume, that you hear it beating from inside your body, like exhuming a long-dormant language you used to speak. Primal DNA music. Ishmael Butler raps on the first track: “Pay attention close you kids, this the shit don’t got no lid,” and he’s right. These songs will take you down a path of hypnosis: My mind traveled to far-off corners, lost memories, and summoned recollections that I’d long forgotten. Listening to Quazarz cracks open a door in your mind, like during the transfixingly long instrumental section at the end of “Effeminence.” The beat on “Julian’s Dream (ode to a bad)” is nonsensically, cheesily spectacular. And the verses on this same song will have your mouth dry with a hunger for the wanting of fruit and sunny summer days. Okay Seattle, the Shabazz Palaces crew have dropped the gauntlet: How do you reply?
The Stranger picked Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines as one of the “Top 10 Albums of 2017,” saying that:
Deciding between Shabazz Palace’s excellent two-album set that came out in July, I’m going with Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. On it, we’ve been graciously invited to inhabit the cosmic cool that is part of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire’s universe. This album is pure pleasure from start to finish, from the rapturous rhymes to the freakishly weird beats and the elegant, preternatural soundscapes. Also wins the award for best album of the year to listen to when getting blazingly high with your deepest, dankest bud.