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Album Review: The Don Of Diamond Dreams by Shabazz Palaces

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Shabazz Palaces is an experimental/alternative hip hop duo from Seattle. After the double album released in 2017, Shabazz Palaces returns for their fifth album titled The Don Of Diamond Dreams. This album is supposedly broken up into two parts, Portal North which is the first five tracks and Portal South which is the last five tracks. This is one group I could never really get into, except for their debut album, Black Up.

The first track is the introduction to the first half, Portal North: Panthera. It's a short 17-second track that has an eerie sound to it with the phrase, "Deep inside your mind, paint the picture."

After that, Ad Ventures opens up with a loud sounding bass kick, with a talking-like introduction to the track. If you're new to Shabazz Palaces, their voices are definitely different, and then you have the backing vocals/ad-libs in the background. I can also sense some eastern music influences in here after the chorus.

Fast Learner is definitely more electronic in nature with an inaudible voice talking at the beginning. After the electronic intro fades, you get a female's backing vocals for most of the track. Purple Tape Nate really adds a whole new dynamic to the track since he's more of an R&B type singer rather than a rapper. I honestly think his vocals fit better on this track than Ishmael's rapping.

Next, we have the track titled Wet. Ironically, during the chorus, he calls water "wet", which explains the title of the track. The track beat seems more electronic and video game-like compared to the previous tracks. There's a lot of sci-fi references sprinkled in throughout the track, especially towards the end of his verse. To end the track out, there's a nice bass solo that is reminiscent to Thundercat's work.

The last track of the first part is Chocolate Souffle. The track's beat seems really busy with the synth beat and the reverbed vocals. It just seems like there's an overwhelming amount of things going on in the track since most of the beats so far have been minimalistic in nature.

The second part of the album starts with Portal South: Micah. It's similar and eerie in nature to the first track, with a weird vocal line, "All up everywhere, wrapped up in it." It seems like there are bells ringing towards the end of the track.

It takes a while for Bad Bitch Walking to open up. It seems like they used a sound clip for the first minute and a half of the track. Besides the track taking awhile to open up, the beat actually isn't that bad and is probably one of my favorites off of the album. My only complaint is that there seems to be a lot of wasted time. The track is over six minutes in length and could easily be cut down by 2-3 minutes. I normally don't complain about long tracks, but the beginning of the track just drags on.

Money Yoga definitely has to be one of my favorite tracks off of the album. After the first few seconds of ringing sounds, a trap like drumbeat comes in to lead off the track. The lyrics are pretty simplistic at the beginning with the repeated lyrics. The track talks about making and wanting to get money. The first verse talks about phase one and how he has honey on his mind. The second verse talks about being in phase two and having money on his mind. I'm assuming it's a play on words since both of the words are close in sound, and both mean money.

After that, we have Thanking The Girls. The majority of the track is made up of just voices and a drumkit in the background. I know Shabazz Palaces isn't your normal hip-hop group, but it just doesn't draw you in with what's going on lyrically. The only saving grace to this track is the R&B style singing you can occasionally hear in the background.

The last track and also longest track of the album is Reg Walks By The Looking Glass. The beat is very wavy/psychedelic in feeling. The singing from Carlos Overall adds to the overall psychedelic like feeling to this track as well. This technically isn't an instrumental track, but the fact that there isn't much singing/lyrics gives that sort of feeling if you're just listening to this in the background. After the first chorus, several different instruments, such as a synth, saxophone, and guitar, take their time to solo over the track.

Overall Rating: 5/10
Favorite Tracks: Wet, Money Yoga, Reg Walks By The Looking Glass

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