Blu & Exile

True & Livin

BY Kyle MullinPublished May 27, 2019

NASCAR isn't a typical touchstone in hip-hop lyrics, to say the least. But leave it to Blu to boldly go outside the box and name-check drivers like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, along with references that you might expect, like Harriet Tubman and the Sahara on "Spread Sunshine," one of three new tracks on True & Livin, his new collaborative EP with producer Exile.
Fans of Blu & Exile's prior team-ups, like Below the Heavens in 2007, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them in 2012, and In the Beginning: Before The Heavens in 2017, will delight in the L.A. duo's continued chemistry on this EP. On the aforementioned "Spread Sunshine," Exile unfurls an understated instrumental of shuffling percussion, brief but pointed vocal loops and abrupt key stabs. That minimalism puts Blu's loquacious lyrics at the forefront, leaving listeners to be floored again and again by his array of leftfield references.
On the flip side, Blu provides punchier rhymes linking the Five-Percent Nation and the low percentage of our brains that are actually used on "Power to the People." Exile, meanwhile, makes the track live up to its title with anthemic horns, church choir backing vocals and crisp drums that all make you feel like he's trying to raise the downtrodden up.
The title track falls somewhere between those other two songs' extremes, thanks to its mellow, soulful instrumental and a similarly laidback flow from Blu.
Together these scant three songs will make listeners long for another full-length from the hip hop powerhouse pair, a craving that won't be satisfied by the instrumental only and a cappella versions of these songs used to pad out the track list. Regardless, it's exciting to hear Blu and Exile pick up where they left off in 2017 without missing a figurative or literal beat.
(Fat Beats)

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