Launched in a shroud of mystery, hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces were much more forthcoming while promoting the release of this sophomore effort, coming clean that former Digable Planets member Butterfly -- now Palaceer Lazaro -- and instrumentalist Tendai "Baba" Maraire were the men behind the music. Good thing too, as otherwise Lese Majesty would be an almost unidentifiable object, falling into the genre of "left-field rap" by default because "Basquiat-styled broken boombox boom-bap" isn't available. The murkiness of cloud-rap, the off-kilter rhymes of Danny Brown, and the weird, spacy humor of Kool Keith all have their influences over this avant transmission, and while the opening "Dawn in Luxor" suggests the launch of a Deltron 3030-type journey, there's something utterly unique and artistically rich going on with this combination of soul poetry and intergalactic funk. So rich that "Forerunner Foray" connects the dots between Digable Planets and the SomeOthaship organization of Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins, and while that's artful, majestic stuff, Shabazz aren't so stuck on seriousness, and are able to offer up hashtags followed by street slang on "#Cake," a song where success threatens to eat sanity. Throughout the LP, catch phrases and hip-hop lingo mix with elevated ideas and scribbled notes from Philosophy class, and even if the minute-long interludes are generally scattered sound pieces or dark snippets of what sounds like Sunn 0))), Maraire makes purposeful music that will woo most open-minded listeners. With Lazaro frequently falling back on his warm and welcoming Butterfly-era flow, the album balances the avant with the approachable in a manner few others would even attempt. It's a shame that such a vanguard effort is weakened by a few clever and jokey interludes that don't warrant a return, but that just leaves Shabazz Palaces room for a proper masterpiece as the brilliant Lese Majesty is so very close.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries