Blu: A Kind of Blu

Los Angeles has always boasted a different brand of Hip-Hop. The city most infamously provided the spark, through N.W.A. that put gangsta rap in the limelight of not only Hip-Hop culture but the entire music industry as well. Since then, against the grain artists above and below ground have chiseled Hip-Hop into a sculpture of their own L.A. brand of rhyme. From funk docs DJ Quik and Snoop to street poets like 2Pac and Ras Kass, even independent crews Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples and Living Legends have managed to mangle their music to reflect their L.A. experiences. Yet, despite all of the artists (many of whom have been successful) it’s tough for the Hip-Hop world to pay the L.A. the same respect that New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Houston enjoy. It remains almost completely defined by it’s gangsta rap roots, the rest is just scenery. Now, contemporary Los Angeles Hip-Hop is once again creating another twist in the tale of the city’s rap. At six feet, four inches, Blu stands tall at the forefront of L.A.’s scene in 2007. The son of a pastor, this native Angelan MC, is the story of this feature. In the last year, Blu wrangled stages on three nationwide tours, featured in an LRG ad campaign and completed his debut album, generating deserved media hype. Blu associates himself (and one of his track titles) as a “Blue Collar Worker.” “F**k jewels/ I think my soul glows bright enough/ and f**k whips/ I learn more when I ride the bus,” Blu admits on “Good Life.” Blu is poised to release his Below The Heavens LP with production wizard Exile. The charismatic MC discusses the record, his touring and L.A.’s Hip-Hop How did you link up with Exile?Blu: Through Aloe Blacc, I met Aloe through a group called Science Project. Out of respect of what I heard of him, I invited Aloe to a show and Aloe brought Exile. After the set, Exile ran up to the stage and he was like, “Yo man, I’m working on this compilation that I wanna get you on.” The next week we were in the studio recording “Party Of Two.” Right after that song we were like, “Let’s do an album together.” Then, for about four or five months, we were doin’ a You were raised by a pastor and your album is titled Below The Heavens. What role does spirituality play in your music? Blu: Spirituality is my music. All my music comes from my What is you’re goal with your debut album?Blu: To go gold. To change, the world. [Laughs] People are tagging you as a potential future leader of L.A. Are you looking to take that role?Blu: At some point, but I would like to be crowned by someone like Snoop Dogg [or] Dr. Dre to be like, “Yeah, this is the next West Coast n***a!” [Laughs] I think there is a huge resurrection in the L.A. underground right now, it’s just not all over the world yet but what’s goin on right now in L.A. is pretty ridiculous. That sound, I’m just glad to be a part of it. [We are] aspiring to take Hip-Hop out of its element, we aren’t just rappers anymore. I’m pretty straightforward Hip-Hop but you got cats trying to all kinds of things. We are doin’ a lot more than what we’re expected. What’s hot in L.A. is a lot different. What other artists do you think can help bring respect back to L.A.’s Hip-Hop scene?Blu: J*Davey, Ta’Raach and Pacific Division. These people are the people. Really, we just need more unity but we got all the pieces right now. These people are just helping build. It’s what’s next in music. Live shows are key in Hip-Hop music. You’ve toured with Slum Village and Strange Fruit Project. What do you try to do when you hit the stage?Blu: Well I strive more to inform more than perform. I love to perform but I’m more interested in letting people know what’s goin’ on. I just like to express myself. It’s like a confession almost. If the mics aren’t good and people aren’t hearin’ me, then I give ‘em that energy, rock hard and keep ‘em going. I’m still an entertainer at the end of the day. They are there to see me perform so I try to give them satisfaction. Definitely just to let people know how I feel, that’s what I am for more than How are things with Sound In Color Records? Blu: I don’t know if I will be put there. I appreciate everything they’ve done, we’ve come a long way. I’m really good friends with Louie, who is the CEO. We’ve kicked it in many different places all over the country together so we have a relationship that goes beyond music. As far as the company, they continue to change and take different turns, but I don’t think there will be a second record, maybe in the future, but not right away. No ties are severed or anything though. What other artists and producers do you admire or would be interested to work with?Blu: Producers, I would say [DJ Premier] of course. As far as artists, obviously Dilla for everything, but rest in peace him. I love Sean Price. Man, at some point trying to do some stuff with Sean Price [or] Planet Asia. There are a lot of singers I wanna work with. I actually wanna work on stuff with ?uestlove. I like his production tip. I think we could sit down and come up with some banana concepts together. There’s so much out there, you could go down the wish list forever but I’m glad to be affiliated with who I’m working with now. I think my pace has been pretty great. I definitely wanna keep it moving, working with other heads. What track are you most proud of on Below The Heavens?Blu: It changes often but the two tracks are “Simply Amazin’” and “Cold Hearted”. Those will always be there. “Simply Amazin',” I always felt like best described me at the time. I really like it. It was written to a Dilla beat originally. When I wrote that, I was like, “Yeah, this is where I’m goin’ with it.” That spawned a lot of the ride I took before Below The Heavens with my writing. My outlook and perspective came from “Simply Amazin’.” By the time I came around to “Cold Hearted,” I was comfortable with what I was doing and expressing myself and getting things off my chest, it was good ventilation. As far as the beat on “Cold Hearted” and Miguel’s hook—it’s just over the top, those are things that couldn’t be replaced. It just took it there, man. On the track “In Remembrance,” you say, “Now you can find it through my rhyming/ 'cause my timing has come/ and you gonna know my whole story by the time I get done.” How much of you’re story do you get across on this first album? Blu: I’ve told pretty much a lot of what went on in my life from 19 years old to 22. I expressed a lot of that. I’m 24 now, so I have two more years to catch people up on and as I continue to grow, I continue to always express what’s goin’ on with me, or with the world around me, or how I view it. That’s the only way I can put it into words. I can’t express how someone else feels about the world, you know what I mean. I think I’m always going to tell my side of the story as long as I’m making music.