Blu is an artist I have known about for awhile but haven't begun listening to until a couple of months ago. His album Below The Heavens with common collaborator and producer Exile is outstanding on all fronts and grew on me very quickly. Seeing that Exile produced a good amount of tracks here definitely had me excited. I did not listen to the singles he dropped in anticipation of hearing the record as a whole and I certainly was not disappointed.
Similar to the intro track to Below The Heavens, I Am Blu(e) is Blu introducing himself to the audience as he raps about being a cool, confident and respected man. The hook is solid and the beat stands out abruptly with some fun and great sounding keys. Blu's lyricism and rhyme schemes are great, but continuously get better throughout the album. Everyday Blu(e)s fittingly has a great blues sample with a lively instrumental and flashy tambourine incorporated smoothly. Blu raps about his strong work ethic and how great of a rapper he truly is with a strong and authoritative flow. People Call Me Blu(e) is where the album really starts to pick up quality wise. The instrumental is more reminiscent of New York boom bap and Blu flows more aggressively, rapping confidently about his lyrical prowess and his influence over the last decade.
The instrumental on The Sky Is Blu(e) is a bit more light hearted but contrasts nicely with Blu's high energy flow. The instrumental also features a sample from The Beatles song Because, which works perfectly into the track. Blu is doing his thing, dropping lyrical gems and making the track fun and energetic. You Ain't Never Been Blu(e) has some more strong keys on the production side from Sirplus. Blu delivers an amazing socially concise lyrical performance here. He raps about social injustices in America, how slavery may be done but racism has still been highly prevalent ever since and how people who haven't experienced racism can't fully grasp it. He delivers some amazing storytelling lines and some enlightening bars throughout this track that will get you thinking.
I Was Born To Be Blu(e) has an upbeat and funky instrumental that Blu floats over in a commanding way. Parts of the track could be taken in multiple ways as he raps about how he was born to be blue. Meaning that he is destined to become the lyrical heavyweight he is today but also to battle with tough times throughout his life (blue as in sad). Blu(e)r Than Blu(e) has another amazing singing sample woven into it while also being another boom bap style beat. Blu is energetic and entertaining as usual being able to mix in fun lighthearted bars with sad and surreal ones. He raps about being knocked down throughout his life but always rebounding, eventually becoming the confident, highly esteemed rapper he is today.
We Are Darker Than Blu(e) has a prideful and empowering instrumental, perfect for Blu on this track as in his raps he is speaking directly to African-Americans. He drops another concise masterpiece about how the system is and always has been stacked against them and they need to stand together and support each other. He even gets super thought provoking as he inquires if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be satisfied with the world we currently live in. The way Sirplus samples the classic Mr. Blue Sky by the Electric Lights Orchestra on Blu's own rendition, Mr. Blu(e) Sky is pure genius. He works it effectively into another boom bap beat that Blu flows swiftly over again as he raps about knowing he reached or touched a fan with his music makes him happy and he takes pride in it.
Mr. Blu(e) has a more soft and lowkey sounding instrumental that Blu takes full control of with his impressive flows and bars. This beat also features some greatly placed trumpets. The outro to the album, Blu(e) World is an emotional rollercoaster. Once you take note of the sample, with Mac Miller used in his song Blue World, and how Blu is able to utilize it just as effectively but in a new way, you know you're in for a treat. Blu's flow is viscous and he raps about growing up with someone who is really close to him, someone he calls his brother, then revealing his untimely death, and dedicating the track to him. He then is rapping to his friend, recalling all the great time they had together and how he changed Blu's life forever. Continuing on to rap about his relationship with his older cousin who had also passed away. How he wishes they spent more time together and how she was a very great friend to him but he's grateful to have known her. He finishes it off by rapping about how he wants anyone who lost somebody close to them to relate to this track and continues to pay respect to other people who have passed. This is a truly perfect track and a beautiful way to end the album.
This only being the second Blu record I have heard just adds to how excited I am to explore the rest of his catalog. The Color Blu(e) is incredible from top to bottom. The production is top notch with outstanding use of samples throughout the eleven tracks. Blu's lyricism is on a completely different level than the vast majority of the rap game and his flows are high energy and lively. His storytelling and rhyme schemes are intricate and compelling. His socially concise tracks are comparable to that of Kendrick Lamar. And to top it off the loose concept that is in every song is genius. The idea of having the e in parenthesis for every track shows how the ideas of each track can be related to Blu the artist of blue has in feeling melancholic, and it is an idea that is understated but clicks once you recognize it. The Color Blu(e) is easily a top three album this year.