Blu York

Since the success of his collaboration with producer Exile, Below the Heavens, Blu has steadily maintained his place in hip-hop with several independently released projects. Indeed, York was originally leaked on the Internet a couple of years back and never saw its intended major label release. This is the L.A. MC's deluxe version of the project, embracing Blu's undeniable desire to push hip-hop to its limits. York boasts a nostalgic feel, featuring a jazz-infused skeleton, electric funk samples and experimental blends throughout the 14 tracks. Laced with artists likes Andy Allo, Co$$, Pac Div and even Wu-Tang's U-God, it's apparent Blu's choice of features not only reflects his artistry, but also the direction of York Off the bat, "Everything's Ok," featuring Jack Davey, with pop-future production from Flying Lotus, sets the tone. While the sonic boom is consistent, the latter half of the album takes on a heavier, jazz-inspired spirit, courtesy of Samiyam and Madlib, on "Jazmine" and "Keep Pushinn." NoYork!'s downfall is that the unparalleled production overpowers Blu's vocals. While known for his in-depth lyricism and thought provoking content, often times Blu's verses are lackluster, taking a backseat to the instrumentals. With the exception a few songs like "Down to Earth" and "My Sunshine," it feels as though Blu has lost his way lyrically. However, York is still a cohesive project. As a mystical and cosmic album, York sheds light on Blu's inspiring sonic dexterity. (Nature Sounds)