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The CHIRP Blog

DJ Mick writesCritical Rotation: “Miles” by Blu & Exile

Twice a month, CHIRP DJ and Features Co-Director Mick takes a deep dive into two albums currently in rotation on CHIRP's charts that he thinks are worth some special attention. If you haven't given these albums a listen in their entirety, let Mick make the case for why you should!

Blu & Exile
Dirty Science

Blu & Exile are the names of the LA hip-hop artists whose collaboration makes the uplifting, jazz-rap, throwback Miles possible, but the combination of their names could just as soon by a statement of purpose.

On the duo's first album since 2012's Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them reflects on the ways that life and death, living and not quite thriving, expectations and practicalities, projections and rebukes, and legacy and liberty intersect in the day to day life of a man of color in the United States.

All the while, using the many shades that the color blue as a symbolic filter for the ambivalence and triumph of being. Exile for his part constructs lush, living soundscapes of hybrid jazz and R'nB that sound both immediate and simultaneously distant, unmoored from time but steeped in history.

Similarly, the album's title Miles is imbued with both an obvious meaning but lends itself to diverse interpretations. The title is certainly a reference to the legacy of Miles Davis, a theme-driven home by the somber swing of the track that bears his name, but also as a reflection of how far Blu and crew have come in a decade since their debut, and how many more miles they plan to put on their odometers before finally rolling into the big car-park in the sky.

The duo boasts of writing forty-odd tracks for this album, of which only twenty made the cut. It's a long journey, but as long as you can keep your grip on the indigo thread that weaves throughout, you're likely to find the odyssey worth the price of time and mental labor.

The central hue of the album colors Blu's reflection on his early childhood on the scratchy sweep of "Blue As I Can Be," turning to a much darker shade on the historical accounts of the African rhythm infused "Roots of Blue" featuring the pulpy drawl of Jacinto Rhines, only to come full circle, turning to a bright pastel on the reverent and celebratory "All The Blue."

The sights and sounds of Miles are familiar to a fault at times, but with that familiarity comes fondness. On Miles, Blu & Exile are sharing a tour of their lives, a single ray of light that passes through the prism of reality, a beautiful blue shimmer on the adjacent wall. It reflects their lives, the lives of their forbearers, and the lives they hope to lead this day forward. 

Mick is always writing about something he's heard. Possibly even something you'd like. You can read his stuff over at the I Thought I Heard a Sound blog.

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Categorized: Album Reviews

Topics: blu & exile

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