If you love Hip-Hop artists Nas, Common, J Dilla, and The Pharcyde. Chances are you will love Hip-Hop duo Blu & Exile.
Blu & Exile are a Hip-Hop duo from Los Angeles, CA consisting of Blu (rapper) and Exile (producer). Both artists met in the mid-2000s, decided to form a group, and released their celebrated debut album, “Below the Heavens” in 2007.
I became a fan of the duo when they released their second album “Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them” in 2012. Their second album will always have a special place in my heart because it was released during the time when I was a struggling senior at California State University, Long Beach.
This album was released at the perfect time because I was in a transitional period of graduating from college and looking for a good job. My self-esteem was low at the time because I never had a job before due to me having cancer twice as a teenager and getting my right leg amputated at 17-years-old.
The foundation of ‘Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them’ gave me the same spiritual experience I had after listening to Nas’ Stillmatic and The Pharcyde’s Labcabincalifornia.
I connected with the overall theme of the album, which showcases Blu’s reflective poetic lyricism about his life, and Exile’s beautiful and soulful beat selection created an atmosphere for Blu to speak about his personal experiences.
Their album was therapeutic for me because of the content and substance within the songs. For instance, my favorite song from the album is “More Out of Life,” which helped me realize if I want my situation to be better, I need to do something about it if I want more out of life.
“On the brink of trying to make my mind, save my soul, at the same time trying to make this rhyme. Wonder, will I be saved in time? Make Salah, say grace case God change his mind. How insane am I? Just the same as you, came here what you came to do, I’m just saying the truth.”
- Blu & Exile, More Out of Life, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them
Other noticeable songs from the album are Ease Your Mind, Maybe One Day, O Heaven, The Only One, A Man, and Cent from Heaven to name a few.
In 2017, Blu & Exile released “In the Beginning: Before the Heavens,” which is a prequal to their debut album because the songs were from the sessions from Below the Heavens that didn’t make the album.
The Legacy of Blu & Exile
Blu & Exile as a duo is often overlooked and underrated, not just in Hip-Hop but in music in general. In my opinion, the duo has never made a bad song or bad album because they always stayed close to the musical foundation they created.
The duo was formed in the mid-2000s, but they presented themselves like their 90s duo counterparts like Gang Starr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, etc. When listening to their music, the listener could hear that they were influenced by the 90s Hip-Hop era.
Both Blu & Exile are solo artists and have created music outside of the duo. In my opinion, they make the best music when they are together because there is a certain level of understanding and respect they have for each other to create the best album possible.
When I listen to a Blu & Exile album, I expect nothing but the best because Blu is a master lyricist, and Exile is a master producer.
Even though they have only released three albums as a duo, they are some of the best albums I’ve ever heard because of their talent to be consistent with the foundation they created starting with Below the Heavens. Their songs have creative lyrics with soulful production and memorable melodies.
My Personal Wish List That Will Never Happen: Nas & Blu EP and A New Pharcyde Album Produced by Exile
I have two personal wish lists that include Blu & Exile, but I would like to see them collaborate with my other favorite Hip-Hop artists: Nas and The Pharcyde. I’ve had this idea for a long time, and I’ll go in-depth about who I want to be involved in the creation of these two albums.
For example, Nas and Blu are my two favorite solo rappers, and it would be great to see them collaborate on a six song EP entitled, “My Life in Color.” Both Nas and Blu are both great storytellers and master lyricists, and when I hear them rap, I envision vivid pictures from their colorful lyrics.
The content within the album will be about their experiences growing up in their respective states (Nas: New York, and Blu: California), their thoughts about the social-political climate in the United States with suggestions of how to combat racism, and the plight of African descendant people from around the world.
I’d like J Dilla to produce the album, co-produced by Exile, and executive produced by A Tribe Called Quest and DJ Premier from Gang Starr. Unfortunately, both J Dilla and Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest have passed away, and therefore this album could never happen.
Blu & Exile share some similarities with The Pharcyde because both group’s lyrics reflect their life experiences in Los Angeles, and they both prefer to rhyme over soulful-jazzy production.
When I became a fan of The Pharcyde in 2008, they reunited for the Rock the Bells festival. While touring as four, in an interview with ughhdotcom, the interviewer asked if they were going to release a new album since they were back together after being broken up for many years.
Pharcyde member Imani said the group needed to vibe with each other again first before making an album because The Pharcyde’s previous albums were built on the vibe they created in the 90s. He also said they need a producer who has creative ideas and is connected to the youth.
After listening to Blu & Exile’s ‘Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them.’ I thought about this particular Pharcyde interview and realized Exile would be the perfect producer to help The Pharcyde create a new album.
For instance, both Exile and The Pharcyde are from LA, and Exile’s production style is reminiscent to the late-great J Dilla, who produced most of The Pharcyde’s second album, Labcabincalifornia.
Unfortunately, this won’t happen either because The Pharcyde broke up again shortly after their reunion tour for Rock the Bells. As an optimist, I’m hoping they could get back together again and bless the world with more timeless music.
Blu & Exile Influences and Identity
Blu & Exile are talented musicians, and I believe Blu’s conscious and street-style of rapping is a mixture of Nas and Common, with the soul of J Dilla. Exile’s boom-bap soulful and jazz-style production is like J Dilla, DJ Premier, and A Tribe Called Quest.
If you are a fan of Nas, Common, J Dilla, Gang Starr, A Tribe Called Quest, and The Pharcyde. You will love Blu & Exile because they incorporate elements from these artists, but they still have their own identity, and should be regarded as one of the best duo’s in Hip-Hop music.
Blu & Exile: My World Is…: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewpVbFT1mpk
Blu & Exile: More Out of Life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJL0IbVLYY
Blu & Exile: Stress Off My Chest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGXo_RHwF_o
I don’t own any content from the images and songs from Blu & Exile. No Copyright Intended. All content is copyright to their respective owners. All Rights go to Blu & Exile. Sound in Color, Dirty Science, Fat Beats Records.
Amazon. Blu & Exile. Below the Heavens image. October 03, 2018. https://www.amazon.com/Below-Heavens-Blu-Exile/dp/B000QFAEHI
Amazon. Blu & Exile. Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them image. October 03, 2018. https://amzn.to/2NnsEHY
Amazon. Blu & Exile. In The Beginning: Before the Heavens image. October 03, 2018. https://amzn.to/2ybPIEh
Genius. Blu & Exile (Ft. Jasmine Mitchell) – More Out Of Life. October 03, 2018. https://genius.com/Blu-and-exile-more-out-of-life-lyrics
LiquidSwordsHIPHOP. Blu & Exile. More Out of Life. YouTube, YouTube, 2 Sept. 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHJL0IbVLYY
ProvocativeEducative !. Blu & Exile. Stress Off My Chest. YouTube, YouTube, 19 Oct. 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGXo_RHwF_o
TheRickynow. Blu & Exile. My World Is. YouTube, YouTube, 25 Aug. 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewpVbFT1mpk
ughhdotcom. Pharcyde - Interview Pt. 2 (Live At Rock The Bells - Mansfield, MA - 7/26/08). YouTube, YouTube. 12 Apr. 2009. www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUG4c2z6G70