Blu & Exile’s “Below The Heavens” Outtakes Are Better Than Many MCs’ Rap Caviar (Audio)
Ten years ago, Blu & Exile released their expansive slice of California dreaming, Below the Heavens. Now, in a kind of Hip-Hop Star Wars move, the Los Angeles duo is offering up a prequel to the 2007 classic album, called In the Beginning: Before the Heavens.
Due out October 20 on Fat Beats, In the Beginning is made up of 14 tracks from the original 2007 sessions, never heard before. Today the MC/producer team share “Back to Basic’s” the second single from the record.
“Back to Basic’s” refers to Blu’s “homie, Basic.” As Blu told XXL : “I would go to his crib in high school to freestyle and beg him to bring me to the Wake Up Show, ’cause he worked there. He never did [laughs]” he continues. “But I would always go back to Basic’s.”
Carried along with a beat with a catchy cartoon-aspect, “Back to Basic’s” has Blu reminiscing back to when he was a “little man, looking out (his) window pane” first dreaming of becoming Ice Cube, before being turned on to other “West Coast vets” and Wu-Tang.
The track works as a dedication to all those in transit, living on their best friend’s couches, but is also a self-portrait of the younger Blu scribbling his rhymes on pages. It also has some of the best, and dirtiest, scratching you’ll hear in a while.
The track ends with an interview excerpt of Blu, when he finally did make it to Sway’s Wake Up Show. The then up-and-coming MC shares that he came to Hip-Hop late because his stepfather was a preacher and had banned it in the house. Then, everything shifted when he moved in with Dad who introduced him to a diet of Too $hort and Tupac.
Blu & Exile’s Below the Heavens was a pivotal release that received almost universal critical acclaim when it came out ten years ago. Pairing the then 24- year-old MC, Blu, with his more established partner, Exile, who had been active since 1995, and had worked with Slum Village, was an inspired move.
Info shared on Bandcamp states that In the Beginning: Before the Heavens will be “made up of songs that are raw and untouched, keeping the authenticity of Blu and Exile’s creativity at the time.” The record will include guest appearances from Dr. Oop, Donel Smokes, Exile’s Emanon partner, Aloe Blacc, and Blame One.