Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2007 with the widely acclaimed Exile collaboration Below The Heavens, L.A. rapper Blu has been hailed as the most promising up-and-comer hip-hop has seen in years. With his cool L.A. demeanor and intricate lyrical musings, Blu blew a breath of fresh air into a stale SoCal hip-hop scene, leading hip-hop tastemakers like HipHopDX and XXL to name him one of the genre’s top newcomers. After releasing further collaborations with Detroit’s Ta’Raach and L.A. producer Mainframe, Blu was rumored to be entertaining offers from several major labels.
After laying low for a while, Blu‘s musical output exploded in 2011. First he dropped a retail version of his classic love-themed mixtape Her Favorite Colo(u)r, which HipHopDX declared as “a worthy third solo album in a flawless catalog.” Then he came out of nowhere with his first newly recorded material in 2 years, the jaw-dropping Jesus (featuring collaborations with Madlib, Alchemist, Planet Asia, Hezekiah, and more). Lastly, he put his beats on display with the production album Open, getting verses from buzzworthy MCs like Sene, Fresh Daily, ScienZe, and Versis (plus a couple from himself) and earning a rare 90/100 review on Okayplayer. With his ultra-busy 2011 nearly in the books, Johnson Barnes is nearly ready to unleash his biggest album yet, the highly anticipated NoYork! If the recent past is any indication, he has nothing to worry about.