Published May 20, 2014If you've been paying any attention to the career of West coast MC Blu, you'll know that it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride. After issuing Below The Heavens as the MCing half of hip-hop duo Blu & Exile, an album that garnered universal love and acclaim throughout the hip-hop underground in 2007, Blu's career feels like it has taken on some erratic and, frankly, head-scratching turns. Various experimental projects that did not harness his lyrical mastery, un-mastered albums popping up on the internet without warning and the rumour that Blu was walking around handing out his unreleased major label debut NoYork! (apparently he was dropped from Warner) didn't exactly stoke hope that he'd release a definitive project channelling his talents. However, Good To Be Home lives up to its title and is easily his best and most consistent release since Below The Heavens.
It's clear Blu has taken some time to take stock of what's been going on around him from contemporaries and new jacks since he emerged on the scene, and on Good To Be Home, he has managed to add his own rhyme style to the proceedings. We get Kendrick's attention to cartographic detail, nods to the Madlib-style lo-fi soul courtesy of album producer Bombay and a genuine adherence to and embrace of where he is from. The proof is in the generation-spanning guest list — a host of noted underground West coast MCs including everyone from Imani of the Pharcyde to Casey Veggies.
On the album, Blu's intricately woven flow constantly drops vivid snapshots of his everyday life and his past memories with the unflinching introspection that won him acclaim in the first place. There are the occasional narratively focused affairs and skill-flexing posse cuts, but it's Blu's non-linear style that is the draw here. As a double album, Good to Be Home is 20 tracks long, and there are times when Bombay's fractured and luminous soul loops, while providing a uniform feel to the album, could be changed up occasionally. But for the most part, Bombay's soul-soaked tracks are the ideal bedfellow for Blu's hopscotch rhyme style, allowing him to retain the sense of unpredictability that he so clearly treasures while delivering the focused return those in his corner always knew he was capable of. (New World Color / Nature Sounds)