While in Chicago a few weeks back, my brother-in-law-in-law (TB’s sister’s husband) introduced me to Below the Heavens, an indie/underground hip-hop album released last summer. The critically acclaimed work combines DJ/producer, Exile, and new-comer rapper, Blu. I purchased the album for $6.99 in DRM-free MP3 form from the Amazon Store.
The duo’s chemistry is reminiscent of that last heard on the Gnarls Barkley freshman release, St. Elsewhere, one of my favorite albums of 2006. There is an interview with pictures on illRoots.com. Curiously, while Danger Mouse is skinny and Cee-Lo rotund, Exile is big-boned and Blu could play Pookie in New Jack City 2.
All jokes aside, Below the Heavens is hip-hop Bundt cake: dense with an amazing panoply of old school samples, glazed with lyrical dexterity. This album will lift your spirit and may expand your brain matter. Last night, the album lifted my spirit (and legs) so much, I ran my first 10K (6 miles). Not bad.
Below the Heavens gets 4.5 out of 5 on the “Tyrone Biggums” scale. (reference)
Exile’s production gets sloppy and Blu’s lyrics lose focus in a few lulls. Otherwise, it would be perfect.