One of the standout rap albums of 2017 was Shabazz Palaces’ high-concept Quazarz duology, Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star and its companion, Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. The abstract, free-jazz rap defied convention with its examination of American culture through the perspective of a visitor from a far-off planet, which challenged listeners intrepid enough to dig into its off-the-wall, Afrofuturistic philosophy. That may be one reason the albums flew under the radar, but that hasn’t stopped the alien rap duo from following up with a fittingly surreal music video for “Quazarz On 23rd,” over a year later.
Written, produced, and directed by Nep Sidhu, the video features a distinctive, retro futuristic aesthetic achieved by shooting on VHS and fiddling with distortion effects that achieve some truly trippy, 1990s AV club-inspired visuals. There isn’t a narrative, as such; the dominating image is of a Sikh man slowly and meticulously tying his turban as the track for “Quazarz On 23rd” plays in the background, but the video also includes a striking spoken word poem recited over the first 90 seconds or so, with translation subtitles in Sanskrit and English.
It’s as surreal and imaginative as the album its taken from, Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines, but like that album, it’s challenging and almost inscrutable. If the protagonist of Shabazz Palaces’ sci-fi epic were real, it’s definitely the sort of video he’d be into.