Indy rapper Blu signed to Warner in 2009, prepping for a major label debut. For whatever reason he officially announced his dropping from the label in October 2011. Before then, he was giving away free copies of his album NoYork at Rock The Bells that summer. Soon after that it hit the Internet. Even though it was never officially released, NoYork was probably one of the most interesting and unique hip-hop records of 2011, which is saying something in a year rife with some pretty great weird rap.
One listen through NoYork might give hints as to why Blu’s relationship with Warner didn’t exactly pan out. This isn’t radio music. Its dense, unconventional, ahead-of-its-time hip hop. The album has a heavy electronic feel, with production from the likes of Flying Lotus and Samiyam. That’s not to say there’s not some gritty New York rap on it as well(even though Blu’s from L.A.). The track “Keep Ush Inn” pits Blu up against a woozy Wu Tang style beat, produced by Philadelphian beat-maker Knxwledge, and he matches it perfectly. (Speaking of Wu Tang, member U-God makes an appearance on the album’s first track “Doin’ Nothin”).
What really comes through in NoYork is Blu’s affinity for jazz. In minute long interlude “Jazmine,” Blu and singer Andy Allo give shout outs to some of the greats. “There was the Coltranes, Miles Davis, Ray, those were the days,” he raps. Even the electronic beats on the album have a tendency to lean towards jazz in their samples and structure.
Give Blu a listen. There’s some real upbeat catchy tracks on the album along with the less familiar sounds (“My Sunshine,” “H.O.U.R.S.” “Annie Hall”). Hear some samples below.