Some of the best stories are spoken in hushed tones. Navy Blue was a professional skater with sponsorships from Converse and Supreme but he kept putting out EP’s and experimenting with hip hop. Most of the time when that happens you can hear clear influence in what they do. Such and such NBA player is releasing a boom bap album that they think sounds like Biggie but Navy Blue isn’t any of that. I didn’t know any of that backstory when I pressed play on his eleven track debut album Àdà Irin. All I knew was that my favorite rapper in the world NEEDED me to hear it. Ka’s post on Àdà Irin was so genuine in it’s admiration I couldn’t pass it up.
I described it to friends as one of those beautiful sleepy Jazz albums you put on at night, but NY hip hop. I didn’t even know at that point that 10 out of the 11 songs on the project were produced or co-produced(With Sage) by Navy. He is the sound of this project all by himself with minimal help. One note needs to be made on the help: Preservation did the one song not self-produced and it is the one minute thirteen second intro track Twenty. Doesn’t sound like much of a contribution but the slow building rumble and soulful chant gets better the more times I hear it. The album couldn’t start any other way.
Ode2MyLove was my window into this project. I was trying to figure out what makes this dude special. He doesn’t rap people under the table like Benny The Butcher, his imagery isn’t Roc Marciano. The piano leads into a saxophone so slow and lustful Johnny Hodges would close his eyes and nod his head. Every word spoken is delicate and fractured, the first words confessed into the saxophone are ” I can feel my angels working/Yeah I know that I’m worth it/I serve a greater purpose/I’m grateful for the hurting” The first spoken bar on the song that follows(Love Is…) “Love is everything I am, I show my crying face to her/face the hurt.” Navy Blue is special for that.
Ode2MyLove taught me that what is special about Navy Blue is that his heart is wide open on these tracks. He is not confessing himself in the mode of spreading hot gossip from his past. This is poetry as music as therapy. I’ve heard this song so much, not as a band aid for when I’m sad. It is not a sad song. The two minutes and twenty six seconds create a swirling whirlwind of regrets, accountability, and gratitude that remind me how precious my choices are. That I should be careful with them like Navy is with his flow, his production, Àdà Irin, and most of all Ode2MyLove.