Blu & Exile Below the Heavens

MCs like Aloe Blacc and Trek Life are bringing some fresh sounds from Los Angeles, and with the release of his solo debut, Below The Heavens, running mate Blu tosses his hat into the ring for consideration. The worthy candidate’s ravenous energy is evident from the start on the relentless "My World Is…” but it soon becomes apparent that Blu is blessed with more than a rhyming hunger and a distinctive nasal delivery. His honest, blu(e) collar approach addresses manhood, relationships and loss with a mixture of dogged determination and naiveté through a mentality raised on ’90s underground hip-hop. Blu shines on narrative-oriented entries like "In Remembrance” and "Dancing in the Rain” but truth be told, there are too many highlights to mention. Exile is no slouch either. Even before the release of last year’s Dirty Science, Exile had been rapidly ascending the producer ranks and this album will nudge him up a few more notches. Taking note of Blu’s approach, Exile’s beats possess a youthful effervescence that mesh perfectly with Blu’s coming of age stories, making for an undeniable chemistry. (Sound in Color)