Is it possible to be a prominent underground artist in 2013? Blu & Nottz, two artists that have been creating their own path through their work with everyone from Pete Rock to Madlib to J Dilla, have been representing the sounds of what old school hip hop heads yearn for and aren't the type to chase dollar signs. With Blu's off-the-wall styles and Nottz Raw's gritty production methods, will Gods In the Spirit be the EP that finally gets them top billing?
The strength of the project comes from the collision of beats and rhymes, as there isn't a single moment in which one force dominates the other. But what seems to be an overarching theme of the EP is it's tendency to jump between a heavy, head nodding beat and a breezy, easy going instrumental. "Boys II Men," the opening, jostling jam that sounds like it ended up on the cutting room floor of the zany, Saturday morning sounds of Madvillain's Madvillainy, starts the EP in a bold manner as Blu & Nitty Scott, MC dive head first and waste no time calling out those artists who assume the "gangsta" persona for the image. "Creme of the Crop" the second track, has Versis, and ScienZe teaming up with the Los Angeles rapper on the boom bap heavy jam as each of the emcees effortlessly flow with the smooth sounds of Nottz, who gained a lot of attention recently with the Odd Future produced "Look" and the Pusha T and Kendrick Lamar banger "Nosetalgia".
This juxtaposition continues with the ominous tune that is "Crooks and Castles" and the standout hit "End of the World", the latter of which returns to that classic Blu sound that was prominent on the 2007's Below The Heavens with Rashad on the hook (check out an in depth look at the song here.) With features from ANTHM, Homeboy Sandman, Sene, & Johaz, "Crooks" is a chilling posse cut that highlights the various cadences of each artist.
As the EP comes to an eventual close, the aptly titled "God Shit" plays like a brooding epic that summarizes the message of the project, as it's commanding sample drives a multitude of emotions while featuring a nice appearance from Aloe Blacc (please don't go back to those Avicii collabs, we've got plenty of room in the hip hop world for you to do your thing.) With a variety of artists, Gods In the Spirit is a great addition to both Blu & Nottz's ever growing catalogue. At 5 bucks, you can't get a better deal than this.
Blu & Nottz
Gods In the Spirit
- Coalmine Records
- October, 22nd, 2013