July 17, 2017

Blu & Exile "Below The Heavens" (10th Anniversary)

Happy 10th Anniversary to arguably the best Hip-Hop album to be released in the last decade. I have no trouble saying it's my personal favorite, without hesitation. I drank the kool aid the first time I heard the Advance copy, which was slightly different (not better or worse) than the retail version. With less than 3000 copies in its original CD pressing, the scarcity of the album, coupled with the quality of the music, gave birth to an unofficial word of mouth campaign that gave the album its biggest push. It took a while, but it all added to the self-esteem value fans felt having been in the know, and they gladly spread the good word. I remember employees at Fat Beats pushed to have the album listed on year-end lists when labels and journalists would call the store asking what people were buying, even knowing there weren't many copies in circulation. By the time an official vinyl pressing came around, I was eagerly waiting at the Fat Beats warehouse for the hand-numbered LPs to arrive, lol. "Below The Heavens" should be the benchmark for collaborative efforts and for artists like Blu who wish to be transparent and tell their story through their lyrics. They successfully crafted one of the most relatable records, and I believe it'll find new listeners for generations to follow. Shouts to J.Kim, who was instrumental in its success, and Exile, whom I'd already been following through Emanon and Dirty Science, as well as his early Eksile mix tapes.