Album Review | Blu & Exile – Miles

This album was released on July 17th this year. This was actually my most anticipated album of the year for a while. If you’re familiar with this project, I’m sure you have an idea of why I put it off for so long despite my lofty expectations. This motherfucker is an HOUR and THIRTY SIX minutes long. Yeah. 20 tracks, the majority of which are longer than 4 minutes. The longest song on here is NINE minutes and 19 seconds. This is one hefty sumnbitch. I was excited though because I knew I would love it. My expectations thankfully ended up being met.

The first song on this album is called Blue. There’s a motif of a tiny voice yelling “BLUE” along with some other colors every now and then. It reminds me of Navi from The Legend of Zelda. Anyway, the song is structured as pretty much just one long ass verse, and Blu maintains a color-based scheme throughout the entire performance, which was really dope.

For that Native in American and African American man
We all can stand together like the colors of the flag
So the man of the land is the man of the nation
Same colors came together to begin creation
Red rock, white smoke
Blue ocean, overflow
Heard Y2K got your third eye open
So it might go pop, but it's not finna blow

I don’t have any actual gripes with the song personally. It’s not a favorite of mine, but I still love it. I think the production is fantastic, and Blu rapped his ass off. It’s not the most interesting song on the album, but it serves its purpose as an intro very well. I think this shit is dope as hell. It’s followed by When the Gods Meet, which is even better in my opinion. The production on this one is even more amazing. I think the beat is absolutely stellar. I feel like a lot of underground weirdos such as Quelle Chris, MF DOOM, Homeboy Sandman, etc. would fit perfectly over this beat. Not that Blu doesn’t kill it himself. Every verse is super well-written. And got-DAMN. That hook from Ishe… She sang her motherfuckin’ ass off. That’s one of the best hooks on the whole album, if not the best hook. She murdered this shit. Blu’s writing here is actually really beautiful too.

I told my child a few stories of the power too
To have four offsprings from out the blue
And I would introduce the summer, but my mother was a sucker
For the spring, she says all the pollen makes her dream
Autumn makes us think of the fallen, and how love caught 'em
And it was winter when I kissed her and wore cotton
And they would all be beholders of the weather
'Cause birds of a feather flock together

This is one of many songs on this album that I think is flawless. It’s an incredible song. I think it’s dope af. It’s followed by another highlight called True & Livin’, which I covered last year.

It was released as the first single, and I was blown away when I heard it.

This is exactly what I wanted. I love this beat from Exile. It just sounds so comforting. It sounds like warmth and being with someone you love. This beat is amazing. Fuck, man. I need a whole album of this. These guys just sound so perfect together. It’s like they never left. Blu sounds amazing over this beat. The first verse is great. The hook is really simplistic, but it serves its purpose. Blu fucking killed that second verse too. Jesus. I’m so happy right now. God I will be so happy if these two put out another album together. I need that shit man. This song is fucking awesome. The final verse was pretty much the perfect way to wrap the song up. This is so well made. I honestly don’t have a single gripe with it. I even like the music video a lot. I mean, the part where Blu shoves a flower into a person’s gun is a little corny. It’s like hippy overload. Overall I enjoyed the video a lot though. This shit is dope af.

It’s followed by another single that I’ve already covered, Miles Davis.

This shit is fire. Exile’s smooth, jazzy production here is glorious, and Blu killed it. This is quintessential underground Jazz Rap. This is God tier Hip Hop. These two are a match made in heaven. The horns that come in during the third verse, mayne…

These two can do no wrong with each other. Blu spazzed on this. I can’t decide who had a better song between him and Cambatta this week. This shit is absolutely dope af. I have zero gripes whatsoever. Do not sleep on it.

This track is followed by yet another single that I’ve already covered, The Feeling.

This shit is fucking amazing. It’s 7 and a half minutes of pure fire. The production from Exile sounds like something that could’ve made it onto The College Dropout. Blu’s performance here is of course top notch, and the Spoken Word performance from Jacinto Rhines is actually great too. I have no idea who the fuck he is, but he did a great job. He reminds me of The Last Poets. The entire track is pure fire. I cannot fucking wait for the album. Do not sleep on this shit. It’s dope af.

My opinion of that song has actually kinda changed ever since I first wrote about it. I still think it’s a fantastic track, but… That Jacinto Rhines guy… I honestly really wish he wasn’t on this song. In fact, I wish he wasn’t on the album at all. I don’t wanna be too disrespectful, but I hate his contributions to this shit, and I think he sounds like a toothless crackhead. The majority of what he says is virtually unintelligible to me, so… Yeah. I didn’t like that shit. He was never bad enough to ruin the song though. I still think the shit is dope as hell. The following track is called Music Is My Everything. It has a really fantastic, upbeat instrumental. Lyrically, Blu pretty much just goes in about how music has always had such a huge influence on his life.

From the beginning it stained my memory
I seen The Fat Boys beat-boxing and talking rhythmically
When I was three or four, but it came out when I was born
I remember one Sunday morn' seeing Michael Jackson perform
They tried to dress me like him next morning before I went to school
Nobody noticed me, but I still thought I was cool
That all started with Michael Jackson, I can't describe the attraction
But my dad gave me LL's Bad before I had Michael Jackson's
My papa was giving me rap back then
Now he got the nerve to act surprised that I rap

The content isn’t exactly super original, but it’s super well-executed. I think the production is phenomenal, and the vocals from Jimetta Rose on the hook are fantastic. The guest verse from Choosey was actually really great too. I haven’t listened to much of his shit before, but he really did his thing here. The following track is called Bright As Stars, and it’s definitely a low point on the album for me. That’s not saying much though because it’s still super dope. I love the chill, jazzy production, and the guest vocals from Iman Omari are incredibly smooth. The opening verse from Blu in which he rhymes about the first days of his career is pretty nice. The song also features a stellar verse from Aceyalone.

Rolling 'til the steel drag right on the asphalt
Thanking my lucky stars that I'm here for the last part
The art, the last should be right at the start
Leimert Park, lion heart, that's a circle of sharks
Off the charts just to be a never forgotten, we keep rockin'
Tamahawk talking the stocking the new concoction
And building blocks in when the beautiful mile
Is the only option to not be in a box or a coffin

The final verse from Ishe is really beautiful too. I can’t really explain why I don’t love this track as much as many of the others. I think it’s just because of how smooth and laidback it is. It’s just not particularly memorable for me. That Aceyalone verse definitely helps it stand out though. He did a fantastic job. The song is dope. It’s followed by one of my favorite songs on the album, Blue As I Can Be. I think this shit is fucking incredible. There’s really not a single aspect of this song that I don’t love. The production is absolutely spectacular, and Blu’s writing here is awesome.

The Los Angeles city skyline is like a photograph of my mind
I could feel the sea's breeze every time that I rhyme
Cool guy, coulda played trumpet in a suit and tie
Barbers couldn't cut a smoother line, so it's U-N-I-versal
First song I ever recorded
Felt important, I had to paint my portrait enormous
Clouds forming, the sun falls and darkness rises
Yo, it's like this every time I close my eyelids

The cuts and scratches from Exile between each verse are fantastic too. I feel like Blu’s performance is much more aggressive here than it usually is. He spazzed on this track. That second verse was crazy. The way this song ends though??? Fucking bonkers. The way that beat switches up is utter madness. It literally just sounds like they went to some random Jazz club and had Blu rap over whatever was being played. Did Exile play all those instruments himself? It sounds like a full band was just playing Free Jazz, and Blu recorded it and freestyled over it. It’s fucking amazing.

I hear rumbling, put my ear to the wall
Nothing but Jazz, Grandad must've had that on blast
Oh, here they come again
James Brown put eight drummers in his band
The promoter put 200 in my hand, I'm a mad man
Track under the rap just to match to the gas can
Last dance, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Philly Joe
Fuck that, brought it back, Max Roach
Wack hoes got smoked quicker than the last roach
Bad joke, we pack boats when black folks had a chance
Fuck slavery, we build pyramids with a helping hand

The song is dope af. It’s followed by another highlight, You Ain’t Never Been Blue. This one has another impeccable instrumental, and I love the content. Basically, he’s just rapping about shit that makes people sad. It sounds kinda lame on paper I guess, but it’s dope as hell. Just trust me on this.

You got ate up in a battle, your girlfriend say she don't like you
You wish it wasn't your gender, your ethnicity doesn't fit you
You don't fit in that school, you got beat up in a fight
Your car got a flat tire, and you got one on your bike
You try to be like your idol, you heard he say he don't like you
You had a fight with your rival and lost the championship fight
You couldn't walk at graduation though you tried hard to make it
But everybody don't make it, man…

The hook is really nice too. The second verse through me off at first. I was like “wait, why does he sound different here?” That’s actually Exile rapping on the second verse though. Obviously he’s nowhere near as proficient of an MC as Blu, but I think he was okay. He certainly didn’t ruin the song. It wasn’t a bad verse. I definitely think it would’ve been better if Blu just handled the whole track himself, but overall I still really love the song. I think it’s dope as hell. The following track is called Miles Away, and it’s another contender for my favorite song on the album. The production here is absolutely marvelous. It reminds me of something Kanye would’ve produced back before he morphed into Black Ted Nugent. Remember how I said Blu’s performance was relatively aggressive on Blue As I Can Be? I think it’s pretty aggressive here too. Maybe not as much as it was on that track, but still. C.S. Armstrong‘s sung hook on this track is absolutely stunning too. It’s an amazing song. Same goes for the following track, Troubled Water. Honestly, I think this song has Blu’s most aggressive performance on the whole album. He spazzed on this one.

I'm busting spiritual lyrics, miraculous like a magic trick
Rabbits flip out my hat, I get action
Pinning my life is passion, get on the mic and smash it
Flipping it like Mike Jackson on the ass again
I'm still black, I peel caps and spill raps like chill black
A ill cat don’t get me contagious, just know
Saving a nation, fruits of my labor made back in the slaves again
I master the craft then master the record, I bust, you masturbate
The master ain't the master if he get blasted away
I'm moving backwards to the East again
Eating apples, fuck it, we're Eve again
Get it even cause evil men can never have true happiness anyway

The production here is incredible too, and the same can be said for Guppy Ranks‘ sung hook as well. But when that beat switches up though???

This is where everyone involved just goes into beast mode. Blu was spazzing out like never before, and the beat is phenomenal.

Lay down the raps to the wax like that, now wind it back
This the crack for them kids that don't do that
You know you wack if you can't play your tracks after my track
I'm after stacks, black, I got your respect, I got your back
I'm from the West, yes, god bless the best
The beat just that right and exact
Fight titans like Tyson, biting my track
M. Bison's sliding attack, tied as tight as the raps

The song is dope af, and definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. It’s followed by Roots of Blue, which was one of the singles I covered ahead of the album’s official release.

I love how it starts off with the tribal chants and percussion, and the strange Spoken Word performance from Jacinto Rhines is great too. I don’t know who he is, and I couldn’t find any information about him online, but his performance here was actually really fuckin’ cool. And breh… When that fuckin’ beat dropped???


Yo, I’m the first man standin’ upright holdin’ a stone in my hand
After beatin’ an ape, claimin’ the land, takin’ a stand, and feedin’ my fam
Back when man ate they children, I’m killin’ other animals just to nurture them
My journey further from all my people into another culture
Not knowin’ my brother’s ’bout to come and take over
We made it all the way to Asia, and to Australia
Then made the passage to the Americas after odd behavior
Came home and started makin’ homes outta stone

As I was listening to this song, all I could think to myself was, “…how the fuck has this never been done before?” It’s such an awesome concept for a song. They really struck gold here. I fucking love it. The song is NINE minutes long, and every second is justified. The production here is fucking glorious, and Blu’s performance is astonishing. If you know anything about me, you know I love when albums are extremely black, so this was perfect for me.

I’m Kunta Kinte ‘for he was enslaved by America
Picture the freedom before the terror
Who had to carry the black burners to Nat Turner
During the slave revolt we came before Columbus dumped us
Off the slavery boat, the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman
Yo, we probably would still be slaves if it wasn’t for Frederick Douglas
I’m up in this government before all them like Booker Washington
With all his boys like W.E.B. DuBois

As I mentioned before, I’m not as crazy about the Jacinto Rhines contributions as I initially was. I really could’ve done without his presence. I’d be lying if I said he really added anything positive to the song for me. He kinda just sounds like some random old black dude. I’m sure he’s an actual artist, and he’s probably here for a reason. I didn’t care for his performances though. I do still really like the song, but I’m not head over heels in love with it like I initially was. It is definitely dope though, and I’d consider it a success. It’s also just super creative. There’s not a lot of Hip Hop out there that sounds like this one. Anyway, it’s followed by African Dream, which has another great feature from Guppy Ranks. The beat here is weird as fuck, but in a good way. I’d actually say it’s one of the weirdest beats on the album. I think the sequencing makes a lot of sense by the way. Going from Roots of Blue to this celebration of Blu’s African background was pretty nice. The opening verse from Blu is nice. Aloe Blacc‘s additional vocals on the hook sound pretty great too. Speaking of Aloe Blacc, what has he been up to lately? I feel like I never really see people talking about him anymore. I wonder what he thinks of Lil Nas X… Anyway, I think the second verse from Blu is much more interesting than the first one.

Africa, mother Africa, home of civilization
A cradle of mankind, the birth place of creation
Generated from stories, integrated through generations
Told by the ancients, you can't say it's none greatest
Africa, the reign of Egypt, range of my people
Disperse through the Earth surface before you could purchase vehicles
They greet you on the coast in the boat
You can't believe it, "Yo, it floats?"

Overall, I think it’s a very nice tribute to Africa. The clunky beat does get slightly annoying by the time the song is over, but it’s not a huge deal. It’s definitely not a highlight for me personally, but I do like it a lot. I think it’s dope. The following track, Requiem of Blue, is pretty goddamn great, although I do have to admit I was slightly disappointed by the Fashawn feature. When I saw his name in the track listing, I was hoping that he would have a verse, but he ended up just singing the hook. By the time I was done listening to the song the first time I heard the album, I had to admit to myself that a verse from Fashawn probably wouldn’t have really made sense on this track in particular. I still would’ve liked a verse from him at some point on the record, but it’s not a huge deal. Anyway, the production here once again sounds very early Kanye-esque. I can imagine Mr. Hudson singing Fashawn’s hook too. Blu’s flow on this track is really nice, and I love the personal content.

'83, LA and me, just Shay and me, just Jay and me
My grandma used to stay with me, my grandpa used to pray for me
Lord, I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep
That if I die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take
I always thought that that was bold to say
'Til one day my cousin Marty taught me how to hold a K
Smoking Js, stolen Js, growing hood, throwing trays
No one knew little Trey would make it out the Js

Fashawn’s singing on the hook actually sounds surprisingly good too. All of the verses are great. I love the song honestly. In fact, I think I like it even more now than I did on my first listen. It’s dope af to me. The following track is yet another major highlight for me entitled The American Dream. I feel like somewhat of a coon to say I like this more than African Dream, but it is what it is. I don’t know whose vocals I was more impressed by between Miguel & The Last Artful Dodgr. They both sounded absolutely amazing on this track to me. The opening verse from Blu is pretty much just him rapping about how he wants to achieve that idea of the American dream. He ends the verse with the following quatrain though…

All I want is the American pie
You know, a big fat slice of that American lie
Same dream they sold that made America fly
Into the sky, to the moon, back to Houston, bullshit

That fucking hook too, man. Miguel & The Last Artful Dodgr both sang their motherfuckin’ asses off. It sounds beautiful. Honestly, this shit really should’ve been a single. I think they actually could’ve gotten some airplay for this shit, especially with that Miguel feature. It’s a pretty accessible track. I don’t fuckin’ know though. I don’t know what the kids these days are listening to. It doesn’t matter anyway. I think the song is dope af though. It’s another one of my favorites.

All I want is to make my own rules
That way all the other states can get high too
And tell the immigrants ride through whenever they want
Global citizenship, bitch, fuck Trump

The following track is called Dear Lord, and I think it’s amazing. I guess you could arguably refer to it as a Christian Rap song. It’s super well done though. It doesn’t feel inauthentic. Well, actually it’s not a Christian Rap song. It is religious though. Well… I don’t know. It doesn’t follow one particular religion. I guess it’s more spiritual than religious in that regard.

Dear Lord, I had a dream everyone was one religion
By the year 2020, nobody was a Christian
Nobody was a Muslim, a Catholic or a Buddhist
Nobody was Atheist or a Judas
But everyone on Earth heard god spoke and everybody listened
And everyone knew it was one world that we lived in
We saw ourselves in each other, but also knew the difference
So we joined hands in repentance for humanity

And goddamn. That Jimetta Rose feature… Shit, I thought she was great on Music Is My Everything, but this hook blows that performance away. This shit sounds beautiful. Lyrically, it’s just a really nice song in which Blu describes his dream of a utopian world. It’s pretty moving stuff.

We destroyed every gun ever made from the face of the Earth
And we dissembled every bomb ever made to save Earth
From any further destruction and corruption and we went into production
Producing everything we ever wanted
I dream the world had a harvest that cured global starvation
In a year's time we are declared one nation
One world, one man in the new life cycle
On a mission to outlive dinosaurs and the oldest man in the Bible

It’s an amazing song to me. It’s followed by To the Fall, But Not Forgotten, which is basically a requiem for a shit ton of admirable people who have passed away.

Fidel Castro passed, yo
And Nelson Mandela was the last savior for Black folks
Don't know what I would be without Muhammad Ali
And the best rapper alive, that would be Sean P
We seen the true leader through Afeni Shakur
And Phife Dawg, we don't wanna lose any more
I'm sure Prince will be missed as the years pass
And David Bowie had the homies crying tear gas

I found it kinda funny how he referred to Sean Price as the best rapper alive considering the fact that he’s been dead for half a decade at this point. The references to musicians were the ones that excited me the most, but I of course appreciated the shouts to Muhammad Ali, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bernie Mac, etc. I do really like the beat on this song, but the one thing that really made this track stand out the most was the way they incorporated those samples of all the people Blu referenced. Like, when he mentioned B.B. King, you could hear him in the background singing The Thrill Is Gone. That was really fuckin’ cool. I got really excited when I heard him mention Eyedea too. I’m glad he had a line for him. There was one for Camu Tao as well. Of course he couldn’t mention every single person that’s ever died, so he didn’t have a line for Little Richard or Too Poetic of the Gravediggaz, but it is what it is. I still think the song ended up being dope. It’s not really a highlight for me just because it’s not that interesting lyrically. It basically can be boiled down to a long list of shoutouts that just so happen to rhyme. It’s well done though. I think it’s dope. It’s followed by All the Blues, which is basically like Blu’s Unauthorized Biography of Miles Davis. It’s fantastic too. That beat is fucking incredible. This is seriously top-tier Jazz Rap. Exile is a fuckin’ animal, man. Blu’s performance has a very straightforward structure. It’s just two verses with no hook. They’re very well-written though.

A modern jazz giant triumphs over the masses
Every decade, another magic trick and back again
Though so many died on his climb
He never turned his back to them
He put them on his back and walked another mile

The second verse was more about Blu himself and his own family history. It’s pretty cool stuff. Overall, I think the song could’ve used maybe a hook or bridge or something just to spice it up a bit, but it’s still a very enjoyable track to me. I think it’s dope as hell. The penultimate track is called Spread Sunshine, and it was included as a B-Side to True & Livin’ last year.

Fuuuuck, nigga. Lmao. Bruh. These beats… Fuck. Am I stanning right now? Is that what’s happening here? I hope not. I don’t think I’m overreacting. Or maybe I am. I don’t know. I’m just really excited listening to this shit because I love it. This beat is gorgeous. I fucking love the way Blu is rapping over it too. The first verse is awesome.

I will push through the snow in Russia, over mountains in China
Swim through the Pacific Ocean, walk the hot of Sahara
I will go to the depths of hell and the gates of heaven
And come back from the afterlife just to complete my mission
Spreading sunshine

This music sounds like the cover of Below the Heavens. It just sounds like joy in the form of a song. I’ve only listened to two songs from this project, and I already don’t know how I’m gonna choose a favorite track. I LIVE FOR THIS SHIT.

Yo I’m ’bout to serve you herbs, you just tryna match the hype
I provide soul to the soul, spoken through this gold microphone that I hold
With no god but the light, I ignite
Limitless space, intimate peace
Praise God, the Father of Christ, cipher complete

I could listen to Blu rap over Exile beats for hours. This shit is awesome. Once again, I have no gripes with this track at all. It’s dope af to me.

Huh… My style of writing has changed a lot, hasn’t it? That’s interesting. It’s also curious that I made that comment about listening to Blu & Exile for hours, only for them to put out 96 minutes of material. But yeah, the song is incredible, and it’s still just as amazing to me as it initially was. The closing track is a posse cut entitled The End, and it’s fantastic. Lyrically, it’s about the literal end of life rather than the end of the album.

Slaves jumping off of slave boats into the ocean
This is O.D.B. overdosing
This is Kurt Cobain loading a shotgun
Blowing his brains all over Washington
This is the slaughter, son, this is the end
This is the last draw at war
This is the last door
The one thing you don't ask God for

The second and third verses are performed by Dag Savage & Cashus King respectively. I think Dag Savage had the better overall performance just because of his flow and delivery.

Yeah, beginning and ending I come to bless your dome
Heads get blown, said rappers that convalesce at homes
Each word of my lyrics should just be etched in stone
Langston Hughes in the spirit when I express the poem

I actually think Cashus King’s writing was far more interesting though.

You could climb a mountain and hide in a cave
But everywhere will burn, my G, there's no escape
Apocalypse means the unveiling of the fate
When you reject God's word and give the Devil your embrace
When every layer is betrayer, every level gets erased
Last days for the ghettos and the upper-class communities
Irony through the death, the classes finally found unity
Hiding underground, where they probably found you and me
Huddled in the corner, even the coroner will die off
Ain't no amount of money to prevent it, ain't no buy-off

However, out of all the features, I definitely would say ADAD had my favorite verse.

This is osmosis, broke minds buy into hypnosis
Live streams that divide king's eyes from divine focus
You was dead in the delivery room
It's all hopeless 'cause your heartbeat ain't in tune with the universe
The flesh is a tomb, the mind is a tool
The heart is the part where revolutions push the body to move
You ready to lose? Got the mathematics confused
If you're trending on the Gram niggas are rocking my news

They all had really dope performances. As anyone could’ve predicted, Exile ended up having the weakest verse, but I wouldn’t say it was trash or anything. That last verse from Blu was fucking awesome though. He definitely had the best performance to me. That shit was amazing. Overall, I think the song is dope as hell. The beat was nice, but it didn’t really catch my attention like the rapping did. The song is still fire as a whole though. I love it.

Gotdamn. I finally made it all the way through. I honestly thought it would take me a lot longer to review this shit. I’m not complaining though. Anyway, I think this album is amazing. The fact that these motherfuckers were operating in peak condition for over an hour and a half, with ZERO skippable tracks is absolutely insane to me. There’s not a single song here that I don’t think is dope. I don’t even know who I would say I’m more impressed by. These beats are incredible, and Blu absolutely killed every single one of them. I don’t have a single consistent complaint. I mean, I wasn’t crazy about that old ass Jacinto Rhines dude, but he was only on two tracks. This album is just awe-inspiring to me though. It’s such an ambitious project, and the fact that they somehow managed to knock this outta the park is crazy. It’s easily one of the best albums I’ve heard all year to be honest. People really need to start giving Exile his credit too. He’s not mentioned enough whenever people are talking about the best producers. He’s a beast. This album is dope as hell. Don’t be turned off by the length. Every second is justified. You’re fucking up if you decide not to listen.



Watch the videos below for more thoughts on this album.

Grade: A

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