When it comes to discussing the greatest ever hip-hop duos, Blu & Exile are a must mention. The legendary Los Angeles based pair share a total of five project releases; three albums and two EP’s. Their most cherished release is unquestionably Below The Heavens,(2007) which deservedly received countless praise from numerous media outlets. The album later provided fuel for Blu’s XXL Freshman nod in 2009. However, don’t be fooled; Blu & Exile’s entire discography is worth hearing! Everything the duo has shared is gold, no matter it be their other two albums: Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, In The Beginning, (Before The Heavens) or EP’s, Maybe One Day and True & Livin’. Exile’s smoothly eloquent, soulful production has been cited as inspiration from two production pioneers; J. Dilla and Pete Rock. Though Exile had already earned production credits from Mobb Deep, Slum Village, Jurassic 5, and more, it is remarkable that his eventual collaboration with underground MC Johnson Barnes, aka Blu, formed each of their iconic legacies. Avid listeners of Blu are aware that the artist struggled to make ends meet before his impending encounter with Exile, as a result of simply not garnering enough recognition and (music) sales that he deserved. Blu never quit, however, by working his ass off to open up for Slum Village, Platinum Pied Pipers, and Emanon; a duo between Aloe Blacc and Exile. The rest is history.
Despite the duo having shared an impressive True & Livin’ EP under Dirty Science, the pair have not released an all-original album since Below The Heavens, netting a span of thirteen years. The 2017 album In The Beginning, (Before The Heavens) contains four tracks from the original 2007 classic, along with previously heard songs and unreleased gems. Now 2020, Blu & Exile stunningly have announced Miles; a brand new collaborative album releasing through Dirty Science. Dropping June 17th, this specific time period represents the same release date of their esteemed 2007 prodigy. Via Exile’s Instagram post, notable features will include familiar names: Miguel, Aloe Blacc, Iman Omari, Choosey, Fashawn, and more.
For a proper preview, Blu & Exile recently released “Miles Davis,” a jazzy piano & drum-filled single off the LP. Named after one of the most iconic, influential, and important figures of jazz composition, if Miles Davis were with us today, I’d be willing to bet that he’d grant his seal of approval. The exquisite instrumental of Exile’s could stand as its own release; yet, per usual, Blu’s lyrical prowess enabled the emcee to execute a flawless performance verse for verse. There are endless absurd bars to list, but my favorite lines are: “Stepped in the stu’ no shoes, but got more soul [sole] than sneakers,” and “I invent too many patterns to pattern your path after / tell them rappers that we got it mastered.” The first lyric exemplifies the cleverness and wittiness of Blu’s artistry, whereas the latter serves as confirmation that he himself is fully aware of his own untouched brilliance. Blu is one of my favorite rapper’s/artist’s of all time, as is Exile when it comes to producers and DJ’s. Therefore, it is an understatement to say that I am excited to hear their upcoming full-fledged LP. Enjoy “Miles Davis,” the latest single from Blu & Exile below!
Words by Brandon Washington