It just so happens that three albums came to me at the same time playing directly on blue, one of them actual called The Color Blue. Listening to them all made me think about how many different moods fit within it. You can close your eyes on these albums and hear the color, feel the shade.
These albums typically do not work. As much as poets think they go with Jazz like Yogi and Boo Boo…they usually don’t. Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson is a beautifully anomaly not the norm. The expectation is that one of the two elements does not align and the Jazz is in a different world than the voice speaking. At seven songs this collection is perfect and these compositions are full and lushly flushed out, reflecting the deep blue of the cover. Hakim gives us a midtempo bounce with a horn that moves on the title track which jumps right into Nathanson’s voice on Things To Like and Not Like In America while the notes sharpen and the tension becomes palpable. The lyricism is strange, specific and beautiful from Nathanson’s end (see: All The Things You Are) but when he leans into singing it works really well and doesn’t compromise his poetry (see: Moonman). My favorite song is Cry and Party. While New Guy To Look At and Moonman are more beautiful and overwhelming in mood and effect, Cry and Party is the height of the joy these two create together. The joyful goofy first twenty four seconds leading into Hakim manufacturing this Latin funk background that leaves room for Nathanson to buzz in with more lyrical moments. It’s a danceable meditating inside joke which ends in excitable laughter from Nathanson excitedly proclaiming “that is the F-ing coolest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!” The prose and the music hit the same tone, that deep blue that isn’t dark but isn’t baby either. A lot of thoughts and moods can rest comfortably within it.
This album is well paced. It is eight songs with the shortest a bit under two minutes. DijahSB knows that the album earns everything. The burbling bass and hi hat on By Myself is a great way to reflect frustrations, confidence gained by survival, crabs in a bucket, making the most by yourself. It’s a come down from the most gloriously pop friendly song (track 5) Overtime with Chris Castello where they make a great Rick Ross joke and generally flow right into a killer chorus by Castello. The track beams with the brightest elements of West Coast hip hop (DijahSB is from Toronto but this stuff slaps). Before the banger that preceeds the thoughtful track is Head Above The Waters most thoughtful song Way Too Many Ways. While it is reflective the drums still slap, the guitar is still filling the space. It’s a song about deserving love and surviving, rebuilding your mentality. As heavy as that sounds its not presented that way. DijahSB doesn’t put on airs about “getting deep” it’s just part of the conversation. The blue tide swings up on Throw That Back where we ride the handclaps to their best rap performance on the project. It swings back down but elements of dance music keep it clicking popping and grooving. The shortest song is the last song and its such an ill beat. I wish it could have gone on for two minutes longer…but leave them wanting more isn’t a bad business model.
The Color Blue gets a ten out of ten in living up to its album cover. The deep to dark blue against the bright orange of the basketball conveys the emotion and the game happening together. On the first song (Hues) D2x plays with the theme directly “Lately I just seen the color blue, that hopeful color truth. Told my girl to marry me, damn she said yes and I just knew.” He dreams of the color blue, reflecting on dreams of basketball success and his future now. D2x has a lot of natural swing in his flow, he can find pockets and stick to them. You won’t be forced to figure out the right way to listen. This is a classically good rapper(see: Shine). His relationship with God is very present but not in a mission statement way, it’s a personal part of his journey not something he is making you take with you. As great as he is at naturally rapping he feels no pressure to put himself above anyone, listen to how relatable Day Job is or hear him reminding himself to stay patient on Been Away (which is such a beautiful boom bap beat). The production on The Color Blue is handled by Yippie The Producer, DJ Pain 1, GLOhan Beats, Xav Scott, Quis, Myquale, Young Swedish Prodigy, and Jxnoir. Adult Swim with Ro Marsalis is a big song for a lot of people but I take In The Sun over it every day. I’ll take Picasso Blue/Thoughts from A Basquiat over it as well. Over six minutes long he closes his debut album with beautiful strings and a loving saxophone that leads him to calmly pull apart his life and put it back together. He never stops rapping in the color no matter where his voice or content travel. This is going to be a career to watch.