By Daniel Paiz
Digging and searching through new music each week is a week’s worth of work honestly. With that being said this is the start of A Week’s Worth Review, where I pick a project from all of the new Hip-Hop out there (mainstream or underground) and give you feedback on said project. I’m picking one album a week because it’ll permit for further feedback and analysis.
This week, we dig into the long-awaited Blu & Exile lengthy project, Miles.
Blu & Exile are back with a vengeance
20 songs that chart at more than 90 minutes might seem daunting to the average music listener today. After all, it’s become routine to put out somewhere around three to seven tracks as an EP and call it a day. Thankfully for those of us who know the magic of a Blu & Exile project, this isn’t the case.
What’s nice about this album is it feels like a late yet unofficial start to summer. Each track feels like it’s crafted to narrate a typical summer day.
It’s more than that though with this album. Now bear with me, but this album feels like a comic book run. Sure, you can miss an issue or two (in this case, a track or two) and still get the overall feel of the project. However, as is the case with your favorite comic book, why would one purposefully miss an issue that provides another layer of storytelling?
The answer is, you wouldn’t if you could help it.
Blu & Exile both feel like they were very thorough in their contributions to this project. Exile stays delivering instant classic beats, but his talent isn’t just in his production abilities. It’s his ear for enhancing whoever is on the track. Blu has a distinct voice and delivery, and yet somehow Exile knows just what to do to amplify the verses delivered by Blu. That level of chemistry, that level of teamwork leads to tracks that we the audience are hearing now.
Tracks to check out first
As stated above, there are no tracks to skip over. However, if you’re hankering to check out what’s the cream of the crop, these three tracks below (plus the one shared in the previous section) are my starting points. These suggestions will begin to give you a glimpse into the thought processes behind these two.
“I wanna paint a picture, make a difference, change the system, make a statement
Life is so amazing, even begging for a penny many never make it
Let alone still live at home, I can’t get out my basement” –Blu
“Ain’t no coinkydink, I soon would link with E and Blu then
Proud of that, Below the Heavens was that key influence
Before that, the Wu and uncle Snoop was speaking to him
Rewind back when Eric B was in my speakers booming“ -Choosey
“Olly Olly Oxen Free, blue kids come out and play
You are free today, free to be blue anyway
We can run away, but blue is always with you everyday
Blue is on the way, no matter how you feel today” -Exile
Each track selected above delivers bars. Sometimes it’s the word choice such as what Exile spits above (yeah, this guy raps too!). Sometimes it’s Choosey in his guest appearance explaining who influenced his love of Hip-Hop. Or, it’s Blu painting a picture of how his rap presence displays lyrical elegance through his honest semblance of collected thoughts. That’s what’s so intriguing about their work, it’s delivering stories and ideas from all angles.
Also worth mentioning, the track that closes out the album aptly entitled The End, brings back an all too often forgotten Hip-Hop relic: the posse cut. The Dirty Science crew who join in on the fun make it memorable and almost a warning of sorts: this crew demands to be included in the discussion of top rap labels today.
The message behind the album
Miles is a title that could mean many things. Paying tribute to the great Miles Davis first comes to mind. So does discussing the journey of life one goes on, collecting miles and miles of experience as one goes. For me, Miles is about the journey towards creative and personal growth, and about movement in a time when life feels stuck in place.
The funny thing about that is this album was in the works long before COVID-19 and the protests that have rocked 2020. It’s very fitting just how timely this album really is right now. Like any book or movie you enjoy, this project requires multiple rotations. The more you engage and devour these lyrics, the deeper your appreciation will be.
In addition to finding a deeper appreciation with every listen, this album also feels like a reunion of sorts. It’s been eight years since these two extraordinary artists have worked together. Life has happened to both, and with that whole life thing happening, relationships change. The music in a way reflects this reunion in its feeling.
The music reflects the growth and change each artist has naturally progressed through. That’s another thing that makes the project different. When you can capture real life on wax like these two have, it delivers a different outcome; that outcome enhances the music.