Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn is a great "also-ran" park.
Without the profile of Prospect Park or the hipster appeal of Green-Wood Cemetery, it's never afforded the respect it deserves as one of the last bastions of bucolic splendor before Fort Greene becomes another mini-Manhattan. It's somehow fitting, then, that one of the most underappreciated names in hip-hop, Shabazz Palaces, should be playing a free concert there Tuesday night.
Shabazz Palaces is the brainchild of Ishmael Butler (formerly known as "Butterfly" from early 90s jazz-rappers Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire (himself the son of master thumb pianist Dumisani Maraire.) The pair started catching ears with two anonymously released EPs before becoming the first hip-hop group signed to the iconic Sub Pop label in 2009.
The group released their first full-length, Black Up, in 2011, and it quickly started showing up on a good deal of "Best of" lists. Dense, hypnotic, and nearly subterranean in its murkiness, Black Up is a true headphone masterpiece of a hip-hop album, one that makes no concessions to listeners. If you balk at the sight of song titles like "Endeavors for Never (The last time we spoke you said you were not here. I saw you though,)" then you probably weren't going to dig on the twisty, nontraditional song structures or intricate lyricism. But there's plenty to be found in Black Up, as tracks like "An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum" attest.