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September 7, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Blu & Exile: Below the Heavens


Last year’s December issue of XXL magazine, named ‘the class of 2009’, Soul Provider Blu was in this group of 10 virtual unknowns, predicted to be large this year. Alongside him were Asher Roth, Charles Hamilton, Wale, B.O.B, and Kid Cudi; all of whom killed it this year. Perhaps Blu hasn’t enjoyed the same notoriety as Kid Cudi, but hey everything in good time, right?

Below the Heavens is the popular release from 2007 that gained Blu some recognition in hip hop circles. Hailing from Inglewood California, Blu hasn’t let the overflow of gangsta rap influence his poetry. Instead his lyric deals directly to the mind, addressing everyday mundane shit with a comical spin, asking rhetorical questions and running his commentary on the rap game in its current state.

In ‘First Things First’ (feat. Miguel Jontel), Blu spits game to a female about the many clichés he could approach her as being in the rap game.

“But, if I say I rap/
Don’t be looking for my Range/
Gold chains or my strap/
And I can act conscious/
But if we talk politics/
You’ll notice that I’m out of the loop/
Cos I don’t follow it.”

And with those last three lines all I hear is T.I. rapping about being ‘impartial to the politics’ (‘Live Your Life’). Blu’s control and humility give him credibility as he doesn’t let ‘the struggle’ overpower his creative process. Blu’s conversation continues on to songs such as ‘The World is (Below the Heavens)’ and becomes more serious.

Exile’s work on the production of the album is central to its appeal. At the heart of Blu’s music is a hipster eccentricity that DJ Exile facilitates so well. On ‘Blue Colla Worker’, Exile scratches over the sampled ‘Quicksand’ by Martha and the Vandellas. On ‘The World is (Below the Heavens)’ he does the same over a sample of ‘I’m So Proud’­—The Impressions. This track repeats four trumpet chords, constructing an inspirational feel for the title track of the album. After producing the whole album, Exile himself rocks the mic on the track ‘I Am…’

Blu’s had more work out since Below the Heavens. This album, however, was fire. It needs to be seen.

“Now it’s a long road ahead of me/
Eyes wide open tryna rock my flow

This man…is mean.


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