Released discreetly under the moniker “B,” Jesus is not the go-to album for those looking to gain a familiarity or understanding of the multi-talented artist that is Blu. Jesus is youthful and creative, random at times, but progressive; a Lo-fi sample consumed playground of the sound and ideas that radiate and inspire the introspective Los Angeles rappers life.
Upon my first thorough listen, I can’t say I was very impressed. The reverse intro flip into the guitar loop and foreign vocals on “New Shit” clued me in to the fact that this LP wasn’t going to be the most lyrically awe-inspiring or sonically convincing piece he’s ever put together. I don’t know if Blu actually wrote this stuff out or if it was train of thought. Whatever the case, it was weird yet straight forward enough to draw me in. And based on the production features and Blu’s oddball character, I knew it would be something different and solely unique to his eccentric alter ego.
Far from the extraordinary Below The Heavens with Exile, the sound of Jesus is psychedelic and organic. Similar to Her Favorite Colo(u)r, the beats are raw and limit bending. Full of heavily tweaked samples that bring life and meaning to Blu’s abstract rhythms, they sometimes over-power the intricate lyricist’s wordplay and take the leading role.
“What If I Was” and “On the Porch” are mediocre tracks that make you forget the same cat that wrote “Dancing in The Rain” is delivering these basic raps. Both of these beats are impressively produced, courtesy of fellow Los Angeles dweller Rome, whom crafted each track out of soft drums and soulful backing loops, providing Blu space to drop average, every day braggadocio raps.
The albums low point, “DMV”, produced by The GodLeeBarnes (Blu’s alter-ego) is a scattered low pass track hooked together by a lackadaisical chorus mumbled out by Blu; “DMV, you never see me, I’m in the streets, my shit by on creep.” While lyrics like “All I wanna do is fuck all you ever do is yawn, all you ever say is hush, fuck is wrong?” give the impression that he is complaining to a particular female, if you don’t listen intently and pick it apart, the song sounds rushed and meaningless.
Eclectic is one word to describe the Rome produced, “Birdz N Beez”, highlighted by the beautiful doo-wop sample arranged on the chorus. Lyrically it sounds like the ex-homeless rapper is making a mockery of material things and those striving to have it all.
“Jesus”, a Madlib production, is one of the standouts and lends an intoxicating beat over which Blu lays a smooth verse. The intro is a long sample that leads into the track like a theme song that sounds like the audio from a school play but the duo creates a spectacular collaboration nonetheless. “Doo-Whop” featuring Planet Asia and Killer Ben is the most lyrical with all three trading strong bars over a bouncing Montclair’s sample, which The Alchemist concocts into a beautiful drum layer-less beat that sounds far from his trademark chemically induced instrumentals.
As the best track on the album, “Lucky” has filtered strings and rumbling bass line which had me lost amongst the hypnotic samples only to be brought back by the melodic yet simple hook. However, this is one track I wish he would’ve added another verse instead of harmonizing random thoughts and other sporadic exclamations; “Be a Muslim marry twice. Move to another country, and get money.”
You’d think making your shit sound proper as possible would be emphasized on an album with production from Madlib and The Alchemist. However, I got the idea that Blu strived for that fuzzy, raw, old school feel which they definitely achieved. Also, the majority of the songs are only about two minutes long, which I think was wise of him because experimental tracks like these don’t need to be dragged into full-fledged productions.
The sound quality of Jesus is as sub-par as ever and prior to some research and repetitive listening, I was left wondering if he had completely neglected or forgot to mix each track. This poor quality subtracted from the overall experience didn’t garner him the justice he deserved. And with him having creative control over his music, I was left wondering who was to blame for this. There were undoubtedly a few cuts I was feeling but I wouldn’t purchase the album, nor recommend it as a whole when referencing the better works in Blu’s discography.
Doo-Whop feat Planet Asia & Killer Ben[audio:http://kevinnottingham.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Blu-Ft-Planet-Asia-Killer-Ben-Doo-Whop.mp3]