Couch Time: In Session With Johnathan Tillman – Blu & Exile “Soul Rising/Simply Amazin”

Soul Rising/Simply Amazin

Blu & Exile

By Johnathan Tillman.


On Twitter, I’ve ranted and raved about Cali duo Blu & Exile quite a few times.  I tweet the praises of Blu’s introspective lyrics perfectly laid over Exile’s wonderfully sampled instrumentals.  “Below the Heavens”—the album in which “Soul Rising” is on—is a consensus classic among those who have heard it.  And this is despite the fact it dropped in 2007.  But let’s get to the track itself.

What makes this song so incredible to me is the combination of boastful and introspective rhymes.  For example, Blu says, “Y’all need a million-dollar budget and some punchlines? Here/All ya boy need is one right ear/And I could probably change the world…” then a few lines later, flips his demeanor to spit, “The game is full of homos backwards/mo’ hoes than rappers.”  It’s in that line where I feel listeners can get a microcosmic grasp of Blu as an emcee and a person.  In that line, he spits an undeniable truth like an older uncle would say through the voice of a young man.  See, Blu was 22 when “Below the Heavens” dropped; so he’s certainly “wise beyond his years.”

Another one of my favorite lines is “I found the shortcut through life, but I’d rather take my time out the door.”  I love this line because so many of our youth believe it’s a miracle to see 21.  So Blu, one year older at the time, tells them that enjoying life is important and those youths don’t have to be a statistic.  And I feel he does it without being too preachy or condescending.  He’s the very definition of “everyman rap.”

Check out the song here.

Grab “Below the Heavens” here.