By sweeneykovar | September 7th, 2012
Underground champions Blu and Exile recently released the official, label-issued version of Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them. The duo’s sophomore LP had previously seen the light of day via Blu’s Bandcamp, unannounced earlier this year — it was raw, unmixed and fuckin’ awesome.
This newer version is “properly produced,” meaning the levels are all fairly even, the music is mixed, there is added production, instrumentation, scratching and even a few new tracks. I’ve heard it in full about a half dozen times at this point, and I have the urge to revisit the first incarnation of the project the more and more I listen to the new one. It’s not that this new version is bad per se, it’s more that the initial one was so good in all the “wrong” ways.
Blu and Exile are different people than they were they dropped the arguable classic Below The Heavens more than five years ago. That album had a young Blu coming of age through song and Exile coming into his own as a powerful, capable producer. Blu’s self-examination and lyrical wizardry matched with Ex’s soulful and emotive style cemented the duo as one of the brightest from the west.
Blu’s leaked version of this second LP sounded like the young wide-eyed MC from the first go ’round came back home to relax and reflect after travelling and seeing the world for a few years. The same earnestness is there, but somehow it got a bit lost in the polish of the version that’s out on vinyl and CD now. I can’t quite put my finger on the exact source, but the gut punch — the visceral connection — is not as strong. Without that, one of the best technical MCs rhyming today can sound a tad uninspired at points, and songs that 6 months and a full studio mixing session ago sounded amazing now congeal as merely good.
I probably sound like a nitpicking, entitled critic, but I only care so much because I care so much. Blu and Ex have transcended before, reaching something higher than just good rap music, and that is the standard I’ll be holding them to for the near future.
Enjoy “The Great Escape,” a new track with Homeboy Sandman and Adad.