Release Date: Sep 4, 2012
Record label: Dirty Science
Blu is a difficult artist, as I’ve danced around before. His “big moment” came five years ago on the back of then-rising producer Exile’s soulful, boom bap sound with one of message boards’ original patron saint LPs, Below the Heavens. His earnest, diary-like lyrics merged with Exile’s nostalgic production in a way that tugged at the heart strings of many a purist, those who were able to feel burned by Lupe Fiasco’s perceived mainstream slant or Nas’ continued lack of restraint.
Blu's No York! was one of the most slept-on rap records of last year, a collection of songs so forward-thinking they helped listeners soothe the retromanic paranoia that abounded in 2011. Provided with difficult beats by a group of futuristic producers that included Flying Lotus, Diaba$e, and Daedelus, Blu dissected the most complicated sounds, seamlessly slicing through cuts on which most rappers would stumble to land a bar. It was an exciting, esoteric collection.
One balmy afternoon back in the mid-to-late-’90s, Q-Tip likely lost a beat tape he was hawking around. This probably happened while he was on his way over to his new pal Jay Dee’s house, wherein the two would sit around, sip chamomile tea and grumble about Phife’s contribution to A Tribe Called Quest’s faltering output. Tip and Dilla would do this while listening to a soundtrack of their own making: clipped beats, noodling jazz-style piano lines, and a vibe you might kindly call “coffee-shop-nausea.
When much-revered left coast rap fixture Blu snuck out a rough edit of the then entitled Give Me Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them late last year, ravenous fans anxiously pining for the return of the Blu & Exile partnership after the 2007 release of their seminal debut set, Below The Heavens, offered a mixed, though roundly enthusiastic response. While the unmixed nature of the release left many a little underwhelmed, the fact that a record Blu today admits was actually recording back in 2009 and never meant to amount to anything was shown so much love is what pushed the duo to clean it up and give it the proper release fans deserve. The new version sounds exquisite in comparison, made so much more colourful with the addition of live and re-recorded instrumentation throughout, along with re-chopped samples, new backing vocals and a handful of choice cuts absent from the set's original tracklisting.