Emerging from a fertile Los Angeles underground scene in 2007, Blu and Exile’s Below The Heavens was an instant cult classic, showcasing Blu’s incisive and thoughtful bars over Exile’s dusty-yet-beautiful soul-sampling instrumentals. Ten years later, Blu & Exile share In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, a new collection of unearthed gems from the original Below The Heavens sessions. Though these tracks did not make the final Below The Heavens, they are not B-sides or Bonus tracks. They feature Blu at the top of his game, with Blu dishing about the perils of stardom on “Constellations“, the stale nature of Hip-Hop airplay on “On The Radio“, and confronting his mortality on “You’re Gonna Die Someday.” Not to be outshined, the tape features some of Exile’s best beats, showcasing the breadth of his crate-digging prowess with boom-bap bursts of sunshine. Premiered with an interview by Billboard, In The Beginning: Before The Heavens is a rare time capsule that sounds just as fresh now as in 2007, providing manna for fans of underground hip-hop on both coasts. Featuring appearances from Aloe Blacc, Co$$, Donel Smokes, Blame One, Dr. Oop, and more, In The Beginning: Before The Heavens arrives via Dirty Science/Fat Beats.
Exile highlights some of the project’s best tracks: “‘On The Radio’ is a song that Blu made that we used to laugh about, but listening now it’s dope. ‘You’re Gonna Die Someday’ is actually me rapping and Blu singing the hook. ‘Hot for Y’all’ is how Blu could have done some Roc-A-Fella vibe type shit, featuring the homie Donel Smokes. ‘Hard Worker’ featuring Blame One is some raw hip-hop shit. ‘Sold The Soul’ is a song, a really dope poem Blu did and he sings on it, it’s amazing. And ‘Stress Off the Chest’ is some train of thought, Blu spazzing and rapping type shit.”
With his fluid rhyming style and his intellectual lyrics, L.A. rapper Blu found his ideal aesthetic match in the soulful beats of crate-digging producer/DJ Exile. Released in Summer 2007, Below The Heavens received widespread acclaim from critics and appeared on many year-end best-of lists. The momentum from Below The Heavens led to Blu’s signing to Warner Bros. Records, and propelled the young rapper onto the 2009 XXL Freshman List alongside B.o.B, Kid Cudi, and Wale. In 2012, Blu and Exile reunited for Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, expanding the palette of Below The Heavens and showcasing Blu’s multi-syllabic dexterity. In 2017, the duo reunited for the nationwide headlining Below The Heavens 10th Anniversary tour.
“We planted the seeds of creativity and grew about 40 plants,” Exile says of In The Beginning: Before The Heavens. “We picked the ones that we thought were the best for an album, but that didn’t mean that the other flowers weren’t beautiful. I’m super happy to re-release [In The Beginning] to people and have it actually get some attention that it definitely deserves. It’s amazing.”
Stream ‘In The Beginning: Before The Heavens‘ via SoundCloud:
Stream ‘In The Beginning: Before The Heavens‘ via Bandcamp: