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In 2008, Los Angeles' Blu had established himself as one of the most promising young emcees in the West Coast underground scene. Over a 14-month span from 2007 to 2008, he managed to release three full-length projects. The first was his widely hailed project with LA producer Exile, Below the Heavens. Exile's work recalled the jazzy, lo-fi hip-hop of early Rawkus Records. Blu's rhymes, meanwhile, were introspective, personal and confessional. But unlike some emo-rappers, Blu rarely cast himself as the victim, preferring to relate his life in events and not emotions. It's the same formula formerly used by Common and Talib Kweli, and comparisons were even drawn to Nas' seminal debut album Illmatic. Blu followed this up in 2008 with C.R.A.C., a collaboration with up-and-coming producer Ta'Raach. Their self-titled album was more experimental, expanding the raw hip-hop palate of Heavens with forays into psych soul and touches of electro and rock. Blu's next project, Johnson&Jonson, found him teaming up with producer Mainframe. The album was a leftfield hip-hop masterpiece, with Mainframe's beats backing up rhymes by Blu that were looser and more freewheeling.

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