on March 7, 2009
I made a mix cd for my friend and I put the song "Below The Heavens" from this cd on there, and he called me up the next day and kept saying how the song changed his life. He was going through some rough times and that song seemed to be the key to unlocking his mental chains of depression and stress.
If that isn't considered the pinnacle of beauty and meaning for the spirit of hip-hop...I don't know what is...
But in the end it's all opinion.
on October 3, 2007
It's been a good year for hip-hop, and even better for underground hip-hop. I've been keeping close tabs on all the hip-hop that has dropped thus far in 2007, and I can assure you that Blu & Exile "Below the Heavens" will be in my interchangeable top 3 for the year; sitting comfortably beside Blue Scholars and Polyrhythm Addicts.
Blu & Exile are an underground duo from Los Angeles. These two share a bond on par with Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. And although I shouldn't pump the album this hard, I truly feel this is a classic in the making.
MC Blu represents what an emcee in 2007 should be - introspective, intelligent, hungry, and soulful. Not only does he have a powerful flow, but his lyrics are on point like no other, touching on nearly every topic at hand. The alluring thing about him is his modesty. The 22-year old emcee writes lyrics in a self-deprecating and humble fashion, and truly sounds like an old soul who's messages teach life lessons. However, he never tries to "teach" them. Instead he's just sharing his thoughts and making clear observations for solutions, or lack thereof. Tracks like "So(ul) Amazin'", "Blu Colla Workers", & "No Greater Love" are prime examples of his highly conscious style.
The mastermind behind these beautiful soundscapes is the remarkable talent of Exile. I will definitely be watching for this guy in the upcoming years, as I think rappers will be knocking down doors in search of his beats. The jazzy and soulful backdrop compliments Blu perfectly. And although it's nothing groundbreaking, his style is so varied and consistent, that you won't find a stinker in the bunch. My favorite joints here would have to be "In Remembrance of Me" & "Show Me the Good Life" featuring Aloe Blacc, Joseph. The former boasts breath-taking production that has me reaching for the rewind button constantly.
All in all, I believe this is the album that Common wishes he could've made this year. And although their styles are similar, "Below the Heavens" surpasses it in every way - flow, beats, lyrics...it's all here in untouchable form. Heads need to wake up and peep out one of 2007's best!
on April 27, 2008
...That so many people won't check out this album. "Below the Heavens" is not only one of the best albums of 2007, it is a classic hip-hop album period. However, its underground status will prevent it from getting the mass appeal it well deserves. Oh well. Rapper Blu spits concious yet honest and sometimes rugged flows over producer Exile's earthy and dreamy productions. Blu's lyrics will make you laugh, shout (you'll be saying "DAYUM!" a few times), and most importantly, reflect. Any good work of art is one that changes the way the viewer (or listener) percieves life in any given way. "Below the Heavens" caters to its young, working class audience in many ways, most notably with tracks like "Blu Colla Workers," a humorous take on complications that arise when work and relationships clash, and "Show Me the Good Life," a reality-drenched parody of the matierialism of many popular rap songs. Blu actually mentions all of the matierial things that he doesn't have (and wishes he did), yet never comes off as feeling bad for himself. In fact he even embraces his position in songs like "First Things First" and "Dancing in the Rain" among others, saying that his lack in matierial wealth keeps him more well rounded spiritually and culturally. There is also a spiritual side to the LP, especially in songs "Cold Hearted" and "The World Is (Below the Heavens)," the latter which in Blu states his opinions of what heaven is like, and how that ideology relates to life on Earth.
This is a great album that any hip-hop fan should purchase. Since you're even reading this, you probably have a serious tase in music, and this album will definetly broaden you scope and state of mind. If you're ever worried about the future, having money woes, or are just generally stressed out, spin this disc in your player.
Everything's gonna be alright.
on May 2, 2008
I'm going to take the bold step of calling this the best album of 2007. Graduation was very solid, The Cool was better, and I won't even go into the great albums from other genres. But this album was such a breath of fresh air. Blu's storytelling ability is so smooth and seamless, it's just flat-out pleasing to hear. Artists like Blu & Exile give hope to the world that hip-hop isn't dead, it's just hibernating.
on July 6, 2009
My friend has been talking about this album since 2007 when it dropped, and I finally gave it a listen. I cannot believe I went so long without hearing this music. This album, in my opinion, ranks with Nas's Illmatic, OutKast's Aquemini, J Dilla's Donuts, and AZ's Doe or Die....no exageration, no joke. A raw, soulful, truly talented rapper meshing PERFECTLY with an incredible beat maker. These two dudes blend together better than any rapper/producer combination I can imagine, and I cannot recommend this album enough. I would give it 10 stars if I could.
on November 6, 2007
Honestly, writing about this album doesn't do it justice. I don't know if its because we are in the "chicken noodle soup" or "ride lil wayne's d**k" era but I found this album disturbingly refreshing. I listen to all facets of Hip Hop, and to show that I'll put it this way....this week I bought Little Brother's "Getback", Jay-Z's "American Gangster", and 9th Wonder's "Dream Merchant" along with this album. I have listened to all these albums and though they are all solid albums in their own rights, this album blows them all out the water.
I just get this refreshing feeling of why I fell in love w/ hip hop listening to this album. I concur almost everything all the other reviews said. However, I don't want to raise expectations of those who never listened before this album like me, you can tell his music is influenced by a Nas, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, A Tribe Called Quest, and Common.
Listening to him you would never know he grew up in LA except for his references in his music because he isn't your average west coast rapper. And before you think I'm hatin, know that I'm from Cali and I love all the artists out here but real recognize real! This is the kind of album that can change the landscape of mainstream hip hop with the right promotional push. Anyways, though there is only maybe 1 track I consistently skip, there are a few exceptional standouts amongst all the really good songs and here they are:
Track #2-The Narrow Path
Track #5-Rememberance of Me
Track #13-The World Is(Below the Heaven Pt. 1)
Go Cop this album tomorrow! And recommend it to someone else. Music like this must be spread by word of mouth!!!
on December 26, 2007
Firstly, this is a great album and definitely worth buying if you can find it in stores- it took me months to find it because it was sold out everywhere I looked.
Regardless, Blu has a cool rhyme style, reminds me a lot of early Common but more focused and aggressive. He's got an honest outlook- he's not a baller but he flosses when he can; hes not the mack but hes got some game, and all in all I think these rhymes are more applicable to the normal everyday person who doesn't have the picture perfect life but makes the best of it.
As for Exile's beats, they are very dope; gritty yet funky sound but also melodic. More sample based; didn't really go for the Triton keyboard sound which is good to hear nowadays. Even though Exile's beats are very dope, Blu's rhymes I think are my favorite part of this album and cause I'm usually all about the beats.
Blu's still a young artist and I can only predict his style and cadence are going to get stronger throughout his career- for a first time collabo between these two its very promising.
Also considering that these two artists are from different areas of the country, Blu from LA and Exile from the Midwest, its great to see artists collabing and mixing styles- for more like this check out the Bishop Lamont/Black Milk mixtape which is also one of the best releases this year.
I love Nas but Hip Hop is far from dead when you got albums like this.
on September 5, 2010
A beautifully & bangin album that was conceived, crafted and performed in the spirit & essence of Hip Hop, by Blu & Exile. The "goodness" is on a frozen rope, from front("My World") to end("I am"). Listening to this cd brings back that good feeling that Hip-Hop is out of intensive care and recovering well in stable condition. Thanks to Little Brother, Lupe, J Electronica, J Cole, Joell Ortiz, J Rock, Papoose, Tanya Morgan, Fashawn, Wale and Blu, Hip Hop will stay on good ground, in the next 5-10 years. Not to mention, Pete Rock, Primo & 9th Wonder have to feel real good about the production work Exile put in, on this album. Shame on me for just hearing about this album this year, but a good thing the rank & file hip hoppers know about these cats. For the real music lovers out there, stay hip on the goodness out there and hop on it as soon as it comes out.
on May 13, 2010
I would almost put this album in the same category as GZA's Liquid Swords or Nas' Illmatic. Great from start to finish. At first it may not be the most in-your-face music you ever heard but after a while you realize how incredibly tight the whole thing is. Many hiphop albums suffer from ADD syndrom where the artist try to please everyone by including RnB songs, dancefloor fillers ... Here, it's all about making one consistent piece of art. A must-have. Looking back, this is my favorite hiphop album from 2007.
on June 17, 2014
Had the hard copy verion of this CD, and lost it before I could download it. After hearing it again in my friends car, I had to repurchase this classic from Blu. He and Exile make a great team, and this is what hip hop should sound like. 2014 and it is still fresh to listen too.