Blu: LA's indie rap hopeful

Blu: LA's indie rap hopeful

While West Coast hip-hop sensations like Lil B, Odd Future and Kreayshawn make all the headlines, LA rapper Blu continues to work the shadows…even as he readies for his major label debut.

Word has it that he was passing out free copies of his latest effort, NoYork, at the Cali leg of the Rock the Bells tour. (Could this mean that Warner Bros. execs cooled on the idea of backing a big promo push?) Undettered, Blu has released the album online as a free stream via these YouTube clips and mixtape. Lucky for us.

The MC also known as Johnson Barnes has been making high-quality records for more than half a decade. His 2007 collab with producer Exile, Below the Heavens, is still in regular rotation. And Blu’s recent releases, jesus LP, and Her Favorite Colo(u)r, feature (at turns) Quasimoto-esque lyrical meanderings, nimble wordplay and jazz sample-heavy sonics.

NoYork, on the other hand, ventures into glitchy, electro-soul territory more than anything he’s done before. With beats by Madlib, Flying Lotus, Daedalus, Samiyam, Shafiq Husayn, et al., the album is much less the backpack-rap retroglide some may have assumed he’d make.

Instead, Blu’s explores broader musical textures, enlisting several songbirds such as Jimetta Rose, Jack Davey, Tiombe Lockhart and Nia Andrews who does the hook on “MYSUNSHINE” (video below), and steering himself out of a narrow rap-nerd lane. (However, he’s got bars for days–catch if you can the verbals from Edan and the disc’s host on “RONALDMORGAN”)

WB might or might not understand how to market this disc. But there’s plenty of classic Blu to satisfy those who expected Below The Heavens Vol. 2 and others who’re happy to catch a vibe with his new sounds. Who’s up for the challenge?

 

Watch “MYSUNSHINE” feat. Nia Andrews:

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