Shabazz Palaces frontman Ishmael Butler often gets the spotlight when the avant-hip-hop group is talked about—but behind Butler's space-age MC skills lies Baba Maraire, the group's extremely talented multi-instrumentalist who brings many of the traditional African sounds into Shabazz's cosmic stew.
Baba Maraire's Chimurenga Renaissance project brings those traditional African sounds to the forefront—mixing Maraire's deft mbira thumb piano proficiency with hip hop production for something utterly unique and new.
"The B.A.D. Is So Good," Chimurenga Renaissance's new track, is an anthem to Black America and an ode to Maraire's Zimbabwean homeland—featuring a dizzying mix of mbira, a bass-happy breakdown, chipmunk vocals and bombastic swagger that sounds like nothing else right now.
Maraire is a thinker—he spoke at length with us about the Horace Mann situation in the Central District last November, and is equally as eloquent about issues facing African-Americans in this new track.
"We all get high because we're on our feet/ Gangsta's hustle because we all have needs" Maraire rhymes in the chorus, "The world's gone crazy because we all want G's."
Be sure to check out riZe vadZimu riZe, Chimurenga Renaissance's new album, out March 25 on Brick Lane Records, also home to one of Seattle Weekly's artists to watch in 2014, Iska Dhaaf.