There've been quite a few hip-hop releases this year that have provided definite satisfaction. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, along comes "Below The Heavens" by L.A. based rapper Blu. All I can say is one word. Wow! "Below The Heavens" is truly a great cd and an awesome debut by Blu. Mind you, I just became familiar with Blu from the one track he did with The Politik's recent release. Now I am familiar with DJ Exile from the group Emanon (along with Aloc Blacc). Make no mistake, while Exile does his thing laying down the beats, this is all about Blu. His skills are undeniable and provides plenty of examples throughout this disc. From the opening track "My World Is Listen", the combination of Exile's top notch production and Blu's seamless flow is pure fire. "So(ul)Amazon" sounds like a future classic summertime joint that you won't get enough of. One of the admirable traits of Blu is that he comes off very grounded and puts a lot of thought into his lyrics. On "Show Me The Good Life", as he does throughout this disc, Blu drops thought provoking lines like (Who needs jewels, I think my soul shines bright enough, who needs whips, I learn more when I ride the bus). On "The World Is (Below The Heavens)"Blu, the son of a preacher raps about moving out and experiencing life for himself as opposed to following his fathers path. Mind you, the subject matter may not be ground breaking but Blu expresses himself with intelligence not heard enough in the game today. I could go on about a number of the tracks here but I won't. Trust me, if you love real hip-hop then you need this in your collection. If there was an award for rookie of the year, Blu would win in a landslide. Easily one of the top ten hip-hop releases this year.