Album of the Day: Blu and Union Analogtronics, “Cheetah in the City”

Los Angeles rapper Blu is known for both his prolific output and his tendency to work with a single producer for an entire project. And while that’s also the case for Cheetah in the City, a collaboration with Union Analogtronics that arrives just three months after his last release, the album also contains some of his most surprising music to date. In interviews, Blu has talked about his interest in releasing albums that mirror various points on the color spectrum. Where his previous release, Open Your Optics To Optimism, was “gray” because of its “emo” qualities, Cheetah In The City is far more vibrant and striking—perhaps neon green.

The album’s title, according to Blu, refers to, “a young squire from Los Angeles, running around the streets of Paris, doing a bunch of ‘illegal’ shit while he creates an album.” The music it contains is appropriately freewheeling, full of rich, bass-heavy, jazz-funk.

Lyrically, the album finds Blu at his most braggadocious, as if he took the bars he spit on OYOTO’s “Oblivia,” and spread them out across an entire project. It’s a respite from the deeper, thinking-man’s rap that’s become his stock in trade, and the new approach allows him to open up and simply rhyme. Opener “LA Counting” is all flossin’ and shit-talk over sun-kissed, gloss-funk production. That combination of brash bravado and deep low end continues throughout the record, making for songs best suited for summer heatwaves (“Sunny,” and the Dam-Funk-assisted “Don’t Trip”) and afternoon drives with the windows down (“Whatever” and “City Dreams” with Olivier St. Louis). These tracks demonstrate that Blu is not only capable of making killer warm-weather tunes, but that he’s also capable of loosening up—and making damn good music while he’s doing it.

Andrew Martin

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