Tag Archives: Blu

A Guide to Coalmine Records’ Gritty, ’90s Revivalist Hip-Hop

Coalmine records

When Matt Diamond was fired from his first two jobs after college, he said to hell with the corporate grind and decided to launch a hip-hop label. At the time, the Brooklyn-based Diamond admits he had no music industry experience—“No internship, apprenticeship, job, career, nothing; I didn’t even work at the local record store after school!” He was putting faith in his psychology degree “preparing me well to deal with rappers and various forms of industry bullshit.” In 2005, he founded Coalmine Records and released the venture’s first project in April of that year.

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Album of the Day: Blu & Nottz, “Gods In The Spirit, Titans In The Flesh”

Gods In The Spirit, Titans In The Flesh takes two previously released EPs from the L.A.-based rapper Blu and the Virginia-residing producer Nottz and flips them into a soulful boom-bap experience that’s greater than the sum of its parts. The projects, originally dropped in 2013 and 2016 respectively, showcase the chemistry between Blu’s elegant and worldly lyrics, and Nottz’s beats, which combine crackling kicks and snares with melodic flourishes. Remastering and re-sequencing the songs into an album format elevates Gods In The Spirit, Titans In The Flesh into a nourishing, well-rounded listen that conveys Blu’s inner feelings as they relate to the broader religious and political systems surrounding him.

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The Best New Hip-Hop on Bandcamp


This month’s crucial hip-hop picks include indie rap veterans who are embracing their years in the game, video game fiends paying tribute to the late, great Frank White, and a rapper who at one time had the whole Internet convinced he was actually an alias of Nas. In a break from the normal U.S.-based selection, we also take a detour to Auckland, New Zealand where a whole bunch of rap cats are mustering up their own brand of creative hip-hop.
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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

Song Premiere: Blu and Fa†e Share Spacey Hip-Hop Collab

From the left: L.A. rapper Blu, and producer Fa†e. Photo by Mish Khalil.

Though it has many aspects, “Oblivia” is, most of all, a cypher on which underground rap veteran Blu takes a moment to just rap. The song—a spacey collab featuring Milo and Open Mike Eagle—is the latest single from Open Your Optics To Optimism, a collaborative EP between Blu and rising producer Fa†e. The project stems from years of work between the two; the first being on Fa†e’s slept-on (and damn good) debut album, 2013’s The Night Bus Home.

That track and subsequent team-ups laid the groundwork for OYOTO, a project that arrives September 28 via rap blog-turned-indie label EveryDejaVu. On its own, “Oblivia” is all sweeping production and razor-sharp lyricism, but it’s also a meeting of the minds—some of rap’s greatest minds, for that matter. Brothers-in-art-rap Milo and Eagle show up to kick knowledge atop a spacious beat, anchored by its swirling vocal samples and slapping drums.

Not surprisingly, the rappers deliver verses you need to play multiple times to fully understand. And Blu, a wildly popular L.A. rapper, punctuates the track with well-intentioned bravado. When he’s not high-fiving the L.A. skyline and carefully placing condoms in his utility belt, the lyricist finds time to tear down walls and knock Superman out of his kicks. What does this all mean? Who knows. That’s why we spoke with Blu and Fa†e about it.

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