By Bijan Haghighi-Mood
Even with all of the great rap/hip-hop duos in recent memory (Outkast, Kids See Ghosts, etc.), there are still hidden gems like Blu & Exile’s debut album Below The Heavens that nearly reaches the same quality as other acclaimed acts.
If you’ve ever felt as if the everyday process was getting to you, Blu feels the same way and brings that thought to life with his lines. Almost all of the tracks discuss everyday problems that mostly anyone can relate to. Blu delivers these ideas with a sense of calm and makes it easy to understand and impactful. While it’s not the most serious topic-wise, it’s incredibly relatable, and with more popular music becoming more somber tonally and subject-wise, his style feels more relevant now with this change.
“The Narrow Path” shows off the lyrical content quite well with lines such as “I’m spitting deep … stuck underground,” which refers to how Blu isn’t quite able to hit the mainstream. There are also many lines that focus on his ideas about escapism and how it relates to his music. For example: “The game is just a way to escape, and our pain is just a way we can relate to folks crying.”
Even with the great lyrical content and flow, Blu needs a good beat to play off of and Exile pulls this off excellently. The production primarily focuses on using slick percussion and vocal samples with a slightly jazzy influence to give a chill vibe to the whole album. The vocal samples are also used really well as they don’t intrude on Blu’s lines and complement the drums fairly well. Exile mixes up the production occasionally by adding guitar and bass licks on top of it. The instrumentals never change up dramatically during the songs, which can make them feel repetitive; however the beats are really catchy, which makes this less of an issue.
Both of these elements combine extremely well and two tracks show this off really well. “Dancing In The Rain” has this melancholy guitar phrase playing throughout the track while Blu talks about some of the more punchy topics on the album. “First Things First” is a really interesting take on a love song with Blu talking about the insecurities he has while trying to talk to someone and how he feels about relationships and everything surrounding it. On top of all that the production takes this snappy vibe that compliments the playfulness of Blu’s verses.
With the uptake in more mellow music in the charts (for example some tracks from Drake, Post Malone, etc.), Below The Heavens’ topics hit closer at this time than when it was released in 2007, making it really accessible to anyone. Despite the more upbeat instrumentals it still works with the music of today, so if you enjoy the more moody direction of popular music in the past year and frequent rap, Below The Heavens is a must listen.