May 25, 2012

Jonah Bromwich is zen.

Sometimes I think it’s amazing that I’m still paying so much attention to Blu. He’s the most singularly frustrating artist I’ve ever been a fan of. He released two albums this year that were drowned in fuzz, and when I say drowned, I don’t mean the kind of fuzz that Douglas Martin enjoys. I mean that Blu held these albums’ heads under fuzz, laughing spitefully while the poor LP’s sputtered for clean sound and thrashed their arms around desperately until they died/were completely unlistenable. That’s as literal as I can get while still being figurative. Blu has a ninth grader’s obsession with weird spacing and random capitalization. He’s unpredictable, enigmatic, apparently a real pain to try to get a hold of and altogether baffling as an artist.

With his talent, sometimes I’m amazed that Blu doesn’t get more attention. As hard as I stan for Kendrick, if we were to go back to December 2011, No York is my number one of the year. Any time the LA rapper clears his head, he unleashes Vesuvius-level fire, as nonchalant as can be. Take the brand new, clean-as-hell single “Kiss the Sky” which has a beat reminiscent of Below the Heavens but finds Blu chopping things up with his one-of-a-kind flow. The guy is just so agile—this kind of ordered, soulful beat doesn’t demand his best, but even a relaxed Blu feels dangerous, like he could side-swipe you at any time, or let off a stream of bars that’ll go straight over your head for the first ten listens (listen to him go from shit-talk, to a mini-story about a crafty girl, to a joke). He’s also got a gift for ceding territory on his own songs to great effect—see his absence on “Annie Hall” or his willingness to give over prime territory here to Mela Machinko, whose vocals seem like a natural extension of the beat.

“Kiss the Sky” is supposedly a reintroduction—but you shouldn’t take that too seriously. Blu, like all the flakes you know, is never one to put too much faith in. Enjoy this, and try to keep your hopes firmly tamped down. Yes, there’s a chance that we’ll get a whole album of songs of this caliber. But there’s also chance that we never hear from Blu again.

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