Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star

Shabazz Palaces - Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star
Critic Score
Based on 23 reviews
2017 Ratings: #385 / 831
User Score
Based on 104 ratings
2017 Ratings: #755
July 14, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Sub Pop / Label
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Loud and Quiet

Throw in the fact that these albums contain some of Butler and Maraire’s outright catchiest work, and the ‘Quazarz’ suite is an unequivocal triumph.

The album’s engaging musicianship makes Quazarz’s story feel cinematic the way a film score enhances a plot, especially with its psychedelic instrumentals like “Déesse Du Sang” and “The Neurochem Mixalogue.”
'Gangster Star’ contains some of the most straight forward hip hop the duo have produced thus far, combining influences such as funk and electronic R&B into something that is, at least partially, anchored to the street.
A.V. Club

Quazarz listeners essentially become protagonists from a Jorge Luis Borges story, piecing together inadequate notes on an intentionally byzantine conspiracy, impossible to fully grasp.

Slant Magazine

No gimmicks, no shortcuts, just a profuse mass of rich, literate lyricism, propped up by an overflowing bounty of complex musical accompaniment.

The Skinny

For what could be a masturbatory exercise or a cheap way to create buzz for what is ultimately weird-ass inaccessible hip-hop, there’s very little filler to be found. These are sprawling works with clear focus.

The Independent

As if heard through alien ears, the arrangements have a weird, woozy character, with the abstract beats and trickly, liquid synth parts punctuated by unusual instruments.

Drowned in Sound

Born a Gangster Star is the intentionally more disorientating of the two records, introducing a strange new world where outsiders like Quazarz immediately feel alienated.

The Guardian

The power of Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and Quazarz vs the Jealous Machines comes from the way they spike their dense, abstract sound with moments of accessibility: a band broadening what they do without blunting their edge or losing their uniqueness.

Crack Magazine
If consumed separately, the first episode of the saga – with all its string arrangements and funk-laden time signatures – may be the more accessible and plush.

Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star is a curious new entry for the group. It expands the space-age palate of Lese Majesty, but slips in the unique tunefulness of Black Up. And yet it doesn’t quite sound like either, and — maybe unsurprisingly, at this point — it doesn’t sound like any other record you’ll hear this year.


Like interstellar guides, they’re always positioned a little further out than their peers, and these two records offer suggested routes to an infinity of possible futures.


Gangster Star reads like Butler’s version of a memoir: his experience as an extraterrestrial being deposited on a hostile planet.

Northern Transmissions
Driving on a strange but really groove driven hip hop, this third record works a lot more often than it doesn’t as they move on solid hip hop complemented by weird production rather than the other way around.
Indeed, there's a little more life and alertness to this set than there is in the dread-laced first volume.
Under The Radar

Shabazz Palaces' music isn't for everyone. Even after many listens, one gets the sense that there's always going to be a hidden meaning or detail yet to be examined. For the casual listener who just wants to get the gist, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star will suffice.

The idea behind Quazarz is indeed fascinating, and could have been a unique way of talking about the modern social and political climate. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like the quest for a particular vibe has sometimes been prioritised over the underlying message.

Throughout, Butler’s approach begins to wear a bit thin. ... His approach previously felt oblique and razor-sharp (think Vince Staples on The Big Fish Theory), but his rhymes fail to strike a balance with Maraire’s fantastic beats.

The Needle Drop

Shabazz Palaces return with deeply flawed twin concept albums.


The giant gripe I have with this record is that it’s BORING AS FUCK! There are some pretty cool ideas and passages here and there, but besides this minuscule examples, I couldn’t find a lot to sink my teeth into here.

Color: White
FAV TRACKS: Moon Whip Quäz, Shine a Light, Since CAYA
LEAST FAV: Parallax, The Nuerochem Mixalogue, Federalist Papers
Just to clarify, was Quazarz born on a Gangster Star? They didn’t repeat it enough times so I’m not totally sure.
Why?...I don't need to say something; the simple question word "Why" is adequate enough...
Boring as hell

Another flawed what seems like a concept record from Shabazz. I just don't get it. It sounds all over the place and it just doesn't sound good at all.

Best Tracks: Shine a Light, Parallax, That's How City Life Goes, Moon Whip Quaz

Worst Tracks: The rest.
like all Shabazz Palaces projects, this'll require many listens. The group is sounding poppier than ever, but still very experimental compared to hip-hop you would typically hear. It starts and ends somewhat weak, but songs 5 through 10 are among the strongest the group has ever done.
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Year End Lists

#6/Gorilla vs. Bear
#80/Bandcamp Daily

Track List

  1. Since C.A.Y.A.
  2. When Cats Claw
  3. Shine a Light (feat. Thaddillac)
  4. Dèesse Du Sang
  5. Eel Dreams (feat. Loud Eyes Lou)
  6. Parallax (feat. The Palaceer Lazaro)
  7. Fine Ass Hairdresser
  8. The Neurochem Mixalogue
  9. That's How City Life Goes
  10. Moon Whip Quäz (feat. Darrius)
  11. Federalist Papers
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Added on: April 25, 2017