Constant change is not just a fact of life, but a fact of the entertainment industry. Just as musical sounds and trends come and go, so do great solos and groups, despite their impact and influence before the fall.
In the case of rap duo, Blu and Exile of Los Angles, they’ve managed to stave off Father Time and drive ever closer to the coveted path of timelessness. Joining the ranks of rap groups like Gang Starr, Black Star, Little Brother, A Tribe Called Quest and more, the duo have done what few have, which is to create projects that please their hearts. while evolving their sound.
Fifteen years ago, the pair dropped what would become an instant classic with their debut, under the skies. A coded reference to both the human experience and its place in the music industry, the project revived rap at a time when it was swimming in commercialism.
We had the chance to catch up with the duo to discuss life, their success in the industry, and what it takes to release a body of work such as their latest album. All of the following quotes are taken from this interview in the days leading up to the release of the album.
Stay true to your passion
At the time, however, Blu and Exile had no idea the project would become what it was.
This desire to be true to their personal vision is one of the central keys to the duo’s success. By staying true to the sound they wanted to create, they gave others permission to do the same and, better yet, charted a course for their brand.
Authentic Relationships Lead to Authentic Music
Their ability to stay true to their vision stems in part from how they met and how they started their friendship. Introduced by Aloe Blacc, the two first bonded over music, building a friendship from there.
Blu discussed their relationship saying,
This friendship serves as the anchor of their relationship to this day and is the reason their projects are successful. Too often we see bands releasing projects that are too experimental and often end up alienating their fan base or releasing projects that are disjointed and reflective of people going in different directions.
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Consistency over intensity
Their sound remained the same. Drawing on the tradition of socially conscious bands like Pharcyde and De La Soul, Exile provided Blu with the ammunition he needed to craft the project. He provided Blu with the songs to rap on, encouraging him to stay focused on the vision they both shared.
The result was over seventy-five discs and in some cases three different versions of songs before the album’s track listing could be finalized.
BTH introduced rapping into their sound, but the consistent commitment to maintaining that artistic standard was what helped the pair become romance rather than novelty.
Stick to the formula
In Blu’s eyes, their first project introduced their brand to the world, but their choice to honor the sound that made them popular is why they’re relevant.
Approaching their project like a lawyer preparing a case, BTH was their opening statement, give me my flowers was additional evidence offered to the jury, and Milestheir most recent project, solidified their business.
The changing dynamics of music have affected musicians of all genres, forcing older bands to adapt with the times or die out. Yet fifteen years later, Blu and Exile still find themselves able to tour the world, performing all over the United States and Europe.
By sticking to the truth, the duo have found their place in the ever-changing landscape of rap and even more find themselves peeking above the clouds.