Ask most rap fans what the best diss tracks in the past five or so years have been and you’ll get pretty standard answers: Kendrick Lamar’s “Control” verse, Drake’s “Back to Back,” Remy Ma’s “Shether,” and if you’re adventurous, Lil B’s “Fuck KD.” It’s rare that anyone ever brings up the true kings of the modern diss track: Shabazz Palaces.
The Seattle-based avant-rap duo have rarely, if ever, taken aim at specific targets in hip-hop. Instead, they’ve ethered the entire game on numerous occasions. Especially on their 2011 album, Black Up, they used an Afrocentric critique of the genre’s materialism and mainstream hypocrisy to produce some of the sharpest lyrical barbs of this decade: “Swag’s the brand, open a can;” “Money always fools ya, so corny’s getting cooler;” “All that diamond dust blowing up your hopes/Flamboyant obstacles, deals made to cope;” “Stars rise and fall in organized regimes/And candidate themselves as some shiny card kings.”
SP mostly focused their attentions elsewhere on 2014’s follow-up, Lese Majesty, but today, we’ve received a track that picks up where Black Up left off. “30 Clip Extension” is taken from Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, which will arrive on the same day as its companion album, Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star. The track, accompanied by a lyric video, invites us to join Shabazz Palaces on a time-traveling journey that begins in 1968 and ends up in 2017.
“30 Clip Extension” explains the evolution of fakeness and figurehead phonies in music, tackling ghostwriters, prescription drug abuse, chauvinism, and technology. As always, Palaceer Lazaro concocts some intriguing double entendres with his slant rhymes, the lyric video not offering much help to discern between words like people/peephole, ghostwriter/ghost rider, and adore/adorn. Nevertheless, this is about as straightforward as he’s ever been in his dissing, spending a good section of the song specifically calling out “your favorite rapper.”
Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines also includes songs called “Self-MadeFollownaire” and “Love in the Time of Kanye,” so it seems like this indictment-of-the-game theme will be an overarching one on the album. That album, as well as Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star, arrives on July 14th.
Check out the previously released Gangster Star cut “Shine A Light” here.