Blu & Exile Take The Meaning Of Soulful Hip-Hop To A New Place (Video)

One of the legends of twentieth-century music relates to the Delta Blues pioneer, Robert Johnson, who died at the age of 27 in 1938. According to the historic tale, the itinerant musician Johnson sold his soul to the devil down at the crossroads of Highway 49 and 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi to achieve musical greatness. “Sold The Soul,” Blu and Exile’s latest video from their In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, is far removed from Johnson’s grimy swagger, even if it trawls similar territory.

Starting out with a classic-retro kick, the Blu & Exile visual has the MC “Walking one afternoon / On a lonely stroll” when he “ran into [his] soul.” The animated video is directed by Unjust. Pointing at the dollars scrunched into Blu’s pocket, his Soul asks “what’s that all about?” Los Angeles MC, Blu then cites all the things he can do and be when Soul-free.

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The list includes riding in fancy cars, hanging out with women and even being “friends with Nick Cannon” (while living in a mansion, and looking handsome). But then, Blu stops. Asking himself what he is trying to prove, he starts singing about the sun, moon and stars, evoking a very ’90s Hip-Hop spirituality, not unlike Mos Def’s “Umi Says.”

Blu apparently didn’t want to release this song, per a HipHopDX report, but Exile convinced him otherwise. “This is a dope poem style Blu had flipped,” Exile said of the song. “He never liked it but to me? I love it, had to put this one on the album.” It’s a good thing Exile insisted. “Sold The Soul” is a sweet song, and also shows another side to Blu, comfortable with leaving things abstract and metaphysical and singing as well. Note also, the gentle, perfectly resolved Exile beat. Carried along by a simple piano-line that stops every now for emphasis, morphing slightly, it is totally in sync with Blu’s unexpected, playful phrasing especially when he sings towards the end.

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Blu and Exile are currently experiencing a resurgence, largely based on this release of never-before heard tracks recorded during the Below The Heavens sessions. The most recent album came out on Dirty Science/Fat Beats in October. This old/new material released under the moniker In The Beginning: Before The Heavens  (and available on green vinyl) only further consolidates their reputations as artists who embodied a particular time and place, but whose music remains fresh 10 years on.

Photo by Maher Khalil.

About Ready Or Not: “Ready Or Not” is Ambrosia For Heads’ platform for showcasing new videos and having you, the people, decide whether they are ready for primetime. Each week, AFH will showcase music from artists on the verge, looking for their seat at the table among Hip-Hop’s elite.