Saturday, December 10, 2011

Jesus and Open

by Blu

It's been a while since Blu released any albums, and then these two became widely available at the same time.

Jesus has eleven tracks, produced by a number of different producers, with an even mix between known quantities and people whose beats I believe I'm hearing for the first time.  Hezekiah, Alchemist, and Madlib each provide a single track (Madlib's is the best), while the bulk of the album is done by people like God Lee Barnes, Rome, and Knxwledge, whoever they are.

Blu sounds great throughout - he's really coming into his own as an emcee, and each of these producers give him Exile-like beats, helping keep this project in similar territory to the wonderful Below the Heavens.  This project really allows Blu's versatility and laid-back flow to shine through.

Open, on the other hand, barely gives us a chance to hear Blu's voice.  This fourteen-track album instead shines the spotlight on his production.  He has found a roster of artists to rap over his beats, with mixed results.  Blu shows up spitting on only two tracks, and with the exception of up-and-comer Sene, I haven't heard of a single other artist on this disc.  The fact that most of them have listed e-mail addresses, or URLs for Myspace and Facebook accounts makes me think that we are listening to a bunch of people hoping to gain some contracts or representation from this project.

 Featuring so many rappers, there is some inconsistency to this disc, and it kind of sags a little towards the latter half, before rallying for a strong ending.  I particularly enjoyed the songs featuring AaronSmartz, ScienZe & Versis, and Chop & FreshDaily.  SouthBroad also caught my ear.

Blu's beats on this album are very nice.  Again, Exile's influence is apparent, but there is also an individual voice that shines through.  Blu is one of the more exciting artists in hip-hop right now.  With these two projects he proves that he can handle being on both sides of the boards, and it is my hope that he will have a truly solo project in the future, where he raps on and produces an entire album on his own.

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