Johnson & Jonson
Bomb a sample with my candlelit flow.
So he says, so he does.
On his first (and highly recommended) album with producer Exile - "Below The Heavens" - Blu was focused on his own eternal struggle between the best and worst parts of himself - with emphasis on the best. This album flips the concept but is by no means less compelling.
This album is perhaps more representative of his current lifestyle now that he has a few more projects under his belt. Whereas the first album was more hopeful this one tends to dwell a bit more on the benefits of living the hip-hop lifestyle. The production on the album matches the tone of the lyrics in that the beats tend towards being a bit more aggressive than his previous effort. That isn't to say that the album is any less soulful. The beats have a definite retro soul slant to them. Blu remains lyrically on point as ever and thus elevates the discussion of the lifestyle and accoutrements of a life trying to make it in hip-hop sound fresh. Even the standard hip-hop misogyny is done with a sense of humor and skill - previously Blu discussed avoidance of the "hoe" because how he needed a wife. Both albums talk about an internal conflict and hence the subject matter on the album vacillates between being hopeful and living a lifestyle.
"Up All Night" is the ish! Here Blue takes you from where he started as a fan of hip-hop to where he's at in career making it. The track is a good representation of what he brings about on the album thematically. Blu clearly has an appreciation of hip-hop's roots and this track is heavy with the old school references - we get Scott La Rock, gold chains, LL-Cool J, and the Fat Boys to name a few - and the sparse beat serves as a great canvas to sport his braggadocio battle-rap lyrics.
Other highlights on the album include Blu's version of "Today Was A Good Day", "WOW" which brings with it a fly soul-singer beat canvas and "The Only Way" - a song where Blu explains why he feels that a life in hip-hop is the only way he can make it "without hustling drugs or busting metal". Here we get a return to some of the positivity that was forefront on "Below The Heavens". I do feel that "Johnson & Jonson" and "Below The Heavens" represent equal sides of a yin-yang and that distinction makes them hard to discuss on their own, though each album would stand alone without the existence of the other. Blu really puts a lot of himself into his music and it shows. If the subject matter is conflicting it is because we as people can be conflicted and apparently this son of a pastor turned MC is even more so. Still, Blu's skill is undeniable and the production is ill enough to stand on its own even if they don't quite work for me in a few limited instances.
Overall, this record represents a person focused on his craft. I look forward to hearing about his continued struggles.
"So you wondering what's next for us probably a blunt with stress to puff cause honestly we stressed enough."
Blu on "Up All Night"
4.267 out of 5
|1. J and J (04:20)||5|
|2. Up All Night (04:37)||5|
|3. Half a' Knot (02:25)||3|
|4. Mama Told Me (02:30)||5|
|5. The Gusto Room (03:22)||3|
|6. Wow! (03:05)||5|
|7. The Only Way (02:24)||5|
|8. In the Building (01:50)|
|9. Bout It, Bout It (01:54)||4|
|10. Spell Check (03:39)||5|
|11. Long Time Gone (02:45)||5|
|12. Still Up All Night (01:23)||4|
|13. A Perfect Picture (03:20)||3|
|14. Anything Is Possible (02:20)||3|
|15. The Oath (02:07)||5|
|16. Hold on John (03:12)||4|