CD REVIEW: Blee - Black Lion Chronicles Chapter 2: Respect Your Legacy
By Levi Canfield
Weakness: Innovation, Self-Belief
Blee’s latest album, Respect Your Legacy, is the closest release so far to leave behind a legacy worth remembering. Heavy hip-hop, promoting a positive outlook, Blee wants people to remember who they are, what they do, and the life they live. Not only does he want you to get out of your seat, he wants you to think. Hailing from England, Blee might not have had enough breaks yet, but this CD could be the one. Scaling over 15 tracks, this album brings the drawing pallet Blee works with to the full table.
Blee (or The Black Lion of Eternal Excellence) exudes enough confident swagger to make you listen, but enough reserved judgment to keep you listening. The entire album is a very orthodox hip hop record. Classic with different beats, jumping genres from Caribbean, Dance, and Soul. Blee mashes together an amalgam of clever thought, positive outlook, and downright entertainment all over one album. Fully capable of entertaining from one track to the last, there is just enough to keep your ear to the speaker. Thrifty production makes the album feeling gritty yet still captures the contagious essence of the music. Along with good recording and production, Blee himself adds a unique mix that very few rappers can contain. He maintains the American arrogance apparent in artists like Lil Wayne or Jay - Z, but captures just enough finesse to manicure the scholastic image you’d commonly suspect among the English stereotype. This allows Blee to capture the likeness that he is confident with his spit, and immaculate with his rhyming. His conscious thought is captured on eloquent tracks like “The Truth”, where he questions his own fame. Pondering if all the limelight is even worth it. This Lion is smart enough to consider what happens when you become the alpha cat. All of his astute outlooks don’t drag the album down when there are still excellent party bangers like “Street Jam” and “Body Language”. The latter sounds like something could be on any MTV top chart list currently. It’s sexy, has a deadly hook, and easily danceable rhythms. It’s one of the best rap singles you are not listening to.
The former of the two songs, while being good, shows the cracks in Blee’s empire. When he tries to go all out with club bangers it just feels trite. This is where you can see how far apart the Atlantic truly is. Blee lays out this syrupy synth’d banger on “Party Jam” chanting, “Party In The Streets Man/Do The Street Jam”. This is where the originality cuts short. This song feels like a robotic organ in a biological body. Blee has managed to map out a club hit, and generically pop out a song. Problems like the above crack through out the album. Times when Blee, “needed to go hard”, he fell short and soft. It’s tough to take the Black Lion of Eternal Excellence serious when part of the great legacy he leaves behind preaches of partying in the streets, man.
A unique outlook, from a creative perspective lead to good things. All the tracks flow from one to the next without a skip. Solidly crafted, this album does a solid job to hip-hop. Eloquence in this case is sexier than brawn. Calm and cool, Blee manages to respect his legacy by giving out an album he can look back on with no regret, knowing he gave it his all. While happening to sound only above average to hyped standards, this Lion definitely has potential for excellence.
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