Gli Shabazz Palaces non sono nuovi alle esibizioni live in terra italiana. È di pochi mesi fa la loro prima visita dalle nostre parti per presentare il loro album di debutto “Black Up”. Stanno per ritornare per una data in quel di Castelbuono Sicilia all´interno dell’ Ypsigrock Festival. In occasione di questo appuntamento vi proproniamo la nostra intervista con il carismatico leader Ishmael Butler, già membro negli anni 90 dei Digable Planets:
-Beside the fact that you come from Seattle, is there any other reason why your album “Black Up” was released by Sub Pop?
We live in Seattle, so when we were making our first two EPs they did very well in our town and they came to the attention of the people of Sub Pop. They just like music, is not necessarelly only about one genre and so they decided to give us a try.
-Weren´t you thinking it may be a risk for you and for Sub Pop, to come out on a label people don´t usually identify with Hip-Hop?
I mean, music is just music. It doesn´t really matter where it comes from or what label it´s on, you either like the music or you don´t. It´s true what you are saying but it doesn´t really matter, at the end of the day it´s just be what it´s gonna be, one way or the other. I wasn’t very worried, on every album that a label puts out there s some risk involved and I didn’t look at it that way but, I do understand what you mean.
-You work at your musical project with Tendai Maraire. Can you tell me something about your roles when you compose, record and produce?
We just go in the studio and start play and experiment and start recording, from this recordings we pick out things that we like the best and then we work on those, develop them as we go along. More of a flow, not much quantisation and programming. We play everything and put together the movements, we capture the spontaneity and the things that just happen by chance, we keep those things.
-I can see a kind of continuity between your work with Digable Planets in the 90s and “Black Up”. This time it seems you even dared to get Hip-Hop free of all the Funk clichés, pushing it to the outer reaches of the genre. One can even hear the influence of Sun Ra or Pharoah Sanders, of the most free form Jazz. Do you agree with me? Was it a conscious process?
It´s not a contra-decision to do anything. What it is… you got to pay attention to your instinct. You have to pay attention to what happens when you are not thinking something. We don´t go in the studio saying “We aren´t gonna sound like this”. We go in there and we try to make the sound that comes to us, the sound that is given to us. We didn’t try to avoid anything. If you are able to go with your instinct, to relay on your instinct, it s very unlikely that you re gonna sound like somebody else. We don’t necessarelly try to stay away from anything but we go towards our instinct because we belive that if you can go there, then you can be yourself and you can have the opportunity to achive something original. That´s the only reason why the album doesn´t have any Hip-Hop cliché and it´s something else.
The differences with Digable Planets, on top of being many years since 1986, it s just that a lot happened in the meantime, that influenced me and my skills level is different.
-Can you tell us your opinion about the state of Hip-Hop in 2012?
The state of Hip-Hop in 2012 is just like the state of America, the politics. We went to a period of materialisation, resulted from greed and deregulation, and the same thing happened to Hip-Hop. There was nobody to make sure that improper things didn’t happen, this mentality of greed, a lack of care, a lack of community prevailed. I think now with the change in the amministration, away from the evilness and the cruelty and greed of the Bush´s Era into the Obama´s Era is gonna be reflected in the music, in the society and culture and it will be different.