Review Summary: A solid addition to an expanding catalog of great indie rappers.
Since the turn of the century, hip hop music has experienced a massive increase in both commercial and critical recognition. Rappers such as Kanye West, Eminem, Drake, and Lil Wayne have become millionaires because of their music, and countless new record labels have risen up due to the success of the genre. But this newfound success has not been without cost. The genre has lyrically declined, with most rappers focusing more on how much money and women they can hold in an expensive car rather than expressing their disgust with society and the countless social injustices they have faced in their lifetimes, leading to what some would consider a more superficial culture around hip hop. New technology has led to mixed results, with some artists opting to use tools such as autotune to fix up otherwise normal vocal hiccups, causing the music to come off as incredibly overproduced and downright dishonest at times. All in all, the genre has been split between two particular groups of artists: Ludicrously rich and famous rappers that dominate the Billboard charts and sales across the globe, and small-time, underground rappers who are more recognized on a local or communal scale. Breaching the gap between the two is incredibly difficult, with few ever managing to hit it big without sacrificing some of their artistic integrity. But not all hope has been lost. Some underground rappers still do manage to pick up some recognition for their work, one of whom is L.A. based rapper Blu. With his seventh solo album, Good To Be Home
, Blu has crafted a solid album that is fit to be in his discography, even in spite of some minor flaws.
When it comes to being a rapper, lyrical flow is an essential part of defining the image of an artist, and Blu handles this extremely well. His delivery is fairly mellow, but his lyrics do revolve around more serious themes than most, such as child support and economic turmoil. Blu’s gangsta rap influences blend in surprisingly well with some of the more traditional soul and Christian gospel elements of his music, helping to solidify and further cement his reputation as a calm but brutally honest hip hop artist. There are also plenty of guest appearances by his fellow West Side rappers, including Mitchy Slick, Phil Da Agony, and 2Mex, giving off the impression that although the underground rap community isn’t known for commercial success, the people associated with it work alongside one another frequently and share close personal bonds.
The one aspect of the album that will divide listeners, however, is the production. It has a very raw, lo-fi sound to it, which will most certainly please longtime indie hip hop fans, but might be somewhat off-putting towards some who are less used to or less fond of the style. Also, since Good To Be Home
is a double album, meaning that there are twenty
tracks in total. Fortunately, most of the songs clock in at below five minutes long, so it never really feels like a drag to listen to. This is definitely one of 2014’s standout hip hop albums, and is worth a listen even for those who aren’t too familiar with the underground rap scene.