Hip Hop Duo Brings Southern Cal to D.C.

A review of Blu & Exile

A college aged crowd packed the U Street venue, Club Liv, on a Wednesday evening. Take away audio from that night, and what you would see is bobbing heads and moving lips in perfect syncopation. However, these hip hop heads were not reciting lyrical classics from Nas or Rakim but rather songs from Blu & Exile, a critically acclaimed rapper/producer duo that has teamed up for a joint venture, “Below The Heavens.”

The set opened with Blu performing the single “Up All Night” from another project “Johnson & Johnson.” After he recited a few lines a capella he asked the audience, “Y’all not with me? You don’t know this?”

Once the bass line kicked in and jogged the collective memory of the crowd, cheers rang out reassuring Blu his fans were indeed, “still with him.” A gleeful tone had been set. He ran through the songs with the relief of an artist who clearly did not realize his DC fan base is strong and alive.

Nearly ten minutes into the performance Exile, who was by Blu’s side on an MPC drum machine and a MacBook Pro, dropped the familiar beat from “My World Is….” The leading track on “Below the Heavens,” sent the club into a frenzy. Blu, as equally energized as the crowd, often did the famous lean the mic towards the crowd move and fans complied reciting each lyric as if they wrote it themselves. The self proclaimed “SoCal residential lyrical monster” flowed effortlessly through other tracks from the album like “Soul Amazing” and shouted out the ladies on “Blu Colla Workers,” his track about frustrations from an unequally yoked relationship. He ended on mellow note with an audience request, “Dancing in the Rain.”

Because the show started an hour behind schedule, Blu’s thirty minutes (max) on stage seemed a bit short but Exile made up for it with an impromptu beat making session. With nothing but the egging on from the crowd, he made two-album worthy beats from scratch in matter of ten minutes.

Between the lyrical prowess of Blu & uninhibited creativity of Exile, DC was definitely given an incredible display of raw, musical talent.

Blu Performing “So Amazing” at Club Liv, Washington, D.C.

Exile Performing a beat from scratch at Club Liv, Washington, D.C.