Blue Soul Ten – The Incredible Sound Of Blue – Album Review
If there’s a bad record out there by Blue Soul Ten, I haven’t heard it.
And keep in mind, it’s not exactly like I’m any kind of stranger to the music of BST at this point either – I’ve been listening for nearly five years, and this will be the fifth review I’ve written on this collaborative project. Sure there have been good records and greater ones during that time, but like I said, never a bad one; dude’s all-pro in the studio, and each time he steps up to press record & get his mix on, he’s usually accompanied by a full complement of talent along with him as well. Which is the case here on The Incredible Sound Of Blue once again, with every track in between the “Intro” & “Outro” revealing a guest-star or more in collaboration; some names we already know work brilliantly with BST’s music from what we’ve heard in the past, others are all-new to the lineup of featured artists you’ll find lining the walls of this band’s catalog – and they’re all equally welcome here, any ol’ time. If it’s by Blue Soul Ten, you’re guaranteed quality…now let’s check this out…
Case in-point, it only takes mere seconds to slide right into this record’s “Intro” and feel like you’re right at home. BST is highly capable and proven to create chilled out cuts for your max relaxin’ – and in that respect, the “Intro” here hits the spot immediately. That crystal quality you wanna hear echoes from the lefts to the rights at all times, always finding a masterful way to keep the low-end in-check and get all the best out of the atmospheric vibes surrounding it in the music. Fun fact for ya…just about every “Intro” under the sun isn’t gonna make a memorable impact on ya – not the way they’re typically used or designed for the most part – but typical anything, ain’t how BST goes about doin’ its thing, you dig? Blue Soul Ten makes sure that every moment you’re listening is always time extremely well spent – you get a full 3:30 on this “Intro” that’s more than entertaining. Glidin’ along on a cushion of high-quality sound & jazzy inspirations, even the “Intro” is a valid reminder of just how great it is to have this project back in the mix, every single time Blue Soul Ten shows up.
“Opportunity” brings back a name we know, love & trust – Surron The 7th, to man the m-i-c. Continually a voice we love to hear throughout the years here, this emcee is in the finest of forms once again as he spits his thoughts on the bars of “Opportunity” and The Incredible Sound Of Blue begins to take flight. This collaboration is proven to be highly effective in the past, and they do it again here in Surron’s first of three appearances in this lineup of cuts; you can hear how these dudes work well together and how each of their individual skills always add up to even more when they unite to crush a brand-new tune. Hooks & beat on-point, the stage gets set right from the drop, and by forty-five seconds in, Surron steps in to “keep it all the way funky” – and the man don’t lie. The 7th tells you how it really IS…”opportunities, I don’t need two – I just need one.” That’s #facts right there folks, and wisdom to be absorbed – a blueprint you should ALL be following, you feel me? The reason WHY Surron The 7th knows he doesn’t NEED two opportunities, is straight-up because at the end of the night, he’s sleepin’ real well knowing that when he gets his shot, he brings it, every single time. Therefore, every opportunity that’s coming his way is treated the same way across the board, you dig? When you consistently approach what you do with greatness on your mind and the ability to generate pure audio excellence like this guy does…and the “Opportunity” comes along to break it down surrounded by soulful sound – it sounds just like this.
Gettin’ all kinds of slick with it, IAMIV steps up to drop bars on “Speakers” – and I’m not only lovin’ what’s up in the lead vocals here, but also the cleverness you’ll find in the backing vocals he’s got laced in throughout this cut as well. You go cruisin’ down the strip with this track bumpin’ loud & you’ll start pullin’ people down the street with you in a parade behind like you’re the Pied Piper y’all, believe that. Consistently, the number one thing that ran through my mind when I’d spin my way through The Incredible Sound Of Blue and run into the two songs that feature IAMIV, was that this guy brings the music of BST into a whole new zone of relevance, appeal, and accessibility to the listeners out there. Dat BASS tho! You gotta love it…it’s a main staple of the Blue Soul Ten sound, and with the added slickness of the fluidity in IAMIV’s upscale flow, the degree of how a track like “Speakers” fits into what’s happening out there in music right in the here & now, rises exponentially. No doubt that IAMIV has a flashy style, but the sheer investment he’s put into his energy & performance has completely paid off for all us listening…he’s confident, cool, and more than capable – he handles his business on the mic like a true professional & brings an entirely new dimension to the scope of the BST catalog with what he does. I’d likely be taking a look at “Speakers” as a potential single to put out there as the gateway in for sure.
The philosophical content & grounded aspect of BST’s music will get revealed the most early on through the fourth cut, “A.B.R.” featuring J Pad da Juggernaut. Dude’s gotta be seriously proud of the performances being put in by his guest-stars at this point in the record already I tell ya. Surron The 7th has crushed it, IAMIV too – and now J Pad da Juggernaut here, is also sounding seriously inspired & outright stoked to be here rappin’ it up for us all. The personalities that BST has brought into his music shows he’s been doing his part to assist in bringing powerful new voices to the forefront of the scene & our speakers, they’ve all been truly fantastic – and there’s still more to come that you can’t miss out on either. “My suggestion is stay on your grind, and put some belief up in your spine, it comes from the inside out, and I’ma show you what I’m talkin’ about” – preach the good word homie! J Pad’s got a lot of sincerity in the way he spits his rhymes – the enthusiasm you hear behind the words, is something we can all feel – he’s put his heart into the words, and as a result, you get a great mix of style that’s every bit as endearing as entertaining. “A.B.R.” = Ask, Believe, Receive…just in case y’all are curious as to what that title is all about – and you’ll find that the wisdom in the words & message runs deep throughout the bars on this track, solidified by good intentions and what truly sounds like a performance that’ll inspire a lotta people out there to seek out & reach the greatness they can achieve. Da Juggernaut lays it all out simple & plain for ya right at the start – you listen to the words before the first verse even kicks in, and you’ll find the keys to LIFE right there in front of ya – so pay attention! Excellent words & vibe flowing throughout this entire cut start to finish.
“Can’t Stand The Rain” will reveal another essentially contributor to this record through the stylistic sound of Kenilworth Katrina on the mic for the first of two times. She rocks with a fluid flow that hits the mark bang-on, and has one of those styles where it genuinely sounds like thoughts being spit right from her own thoughts & feelings as they come up, yet with all that professional precision you wanna hear in a well-rehearsed performance. It’s a tough balance to find in emcees out there in the world, but when you hear the magic happen in this particular way, you can’t miss it – and Kenilworth here, she’s stocked full of all the right ingredients when it comes to spittin’ that good-good soulful poetry. Might even be the real unsung hero of this record…not that anyone’s goin’ unsung here & all, but you’ll get what I mean when you listen – “Can’t Stand The Rain” goes for much deeper meaning, introspective vibes, and it plays at a slower pace than the rest of what we’ve heard so far as well more or less. So chances are, by the nature of how people typically absorb their tunes, a track like “Can’t Stand The Rain” ends up being that track you know you’ll come back to time & again, as opposed to cuts like “Speakers” that pump out that instant universal appeal & uplifting sound atcha. Essentially, “Can’t Stand The Rain” is a moodier cut, that’s the nuts & bolts of it all – listeners tend to respond to that with more caution on those first spins, but then they dial in on the reason why they’d be returning to it, because when you’re in a mood that matches up, music like this becomes all-out necessary. You listen to the raindrops pouring through your speakers on the right day where you’re feelin’ a certain way, and the thoughts being laid out on the mic by Kenilworth Katrina, and you realize just how much there is in common with what’s being said & the emotion that comes with it. “You need the rain to appreciate beautiful days” – I could quote from this cut all day long…she’s got a remarkable way with words and how to deliver in a way that’s seriously down-to-earth…you feel that connection you wanna hear between the artist & the vibe of the music surrounding her here – this collaboration between Katrina & BST is one that works brilliantly, and another one that adds even more depth to the versatility of The Incredible Sound Of Blue.
Never any mistaking Surron The 7th when he shows up to the studio, the man’s got style for miles and a high degree of real identity in his overall sound that sets him apart from the rest; he remains one of my favorite personalities on the mic out there in the Hip-Hop scene right now. Always delivering quality your ears can rely on to deliver the goods – BST also brings back another verifiable all-star on “11:30” to secure the hooks and get those locked down tight, via the superstar talents of singer Syaqui Destinaka. Let’s be real here…you see Syaqui’s name in the mix and you know she’s capable of knocking it right outta the park because of how many times we’ve experienced her in collaboration with BST in the past – and never one to disappoint, her soulful style does nothing but completely add more charm into the mix for ya to enjoy. Taking it from two studio aces to three in the mix for ya on this collaborative cut – I mean, if you had to choose three names you’d wanna hear making music on your own, you might just draw to the same conclusion as the very ones you’ll see listed in the credits right here on “11:30,” know what I’m saying? The production on this whole album sparkles in spectacular ways, and tracks like “11:30” are another stellar example of how BST sets everyone up to shine just as bright. Smooth as smooth can be from the bars to the hooks to the music to the vibe, “11:30” has the flawless performance you’d expect to find from three verifiably heavy-hitters in the independent scene we love.
What’s not to love here y’all? Blue Soul Ten is sounding inspired all throughout this record, and some of these names we didn’t know are really bringing out freakin’ fantastic new vibes in this project’s legacy. For example, IAMIV has been absolutely bringin’ it to the bars with memorable personality, swagger, and style surging throughout his guest-spots on The Incredible Sound Of Blue. BST’s had the music completely on-point throughout this latest record as well – which is somewhat to be expected in the sense that, like the mailman, this man delivers all day, every day – but you can audibly hear how the stability of his songs, and the genuinely interesting sound they contain, all leads to getting the inspired best out of each and every one of these amazing featured guests. IAMIV…I mean c’mon now folks – what else could you want other than exactly what he’s givin’ ya right here on “Hustle.” “Smooth as I wanna be, and ain’t nobody close to me” – you gotta admit, as the man sings stylistically and glides over these bars with his hybrid Hip-Hop/R&B/Soul finesse…he makes a real good case for himself regarding that quote right there. “Ain’t no hustle like the one I got” – it’s a statement in the hooks that certainly applies to the man on the mic on “Hustle,” yes, but it’s also a line that represents something even bigger in the context of this record – as in, every artist featured on it, shares this same spirit, attitude, & values when it comes to making music. And therein lies the secret as to why this all sounds so damn good fam.
With the low-end kickin’ in full-effect, Blue Soul Ten lays the “Sunshine” on ya with Kenilworth Katrina back on the mic for a track that gets more energy out of her tone & flow in tandem with the music that’s got more bounce & an upbeat vibe to it all this time around for her second appearance. Dig the guitar solo in the mix, short, sweet, and effective…and I’m a big fan of Kenilworth’s lyrical style…she’s divin’ into nostalgic themes here, and the all-around energy you feel in the aura & sentiment of this entire track has got a whole lotta love at its core. It’s a tributary song to the good times of life & love long past now…but the memories remain, and Katrina drops serious bars that have weight, emotion, and genuine sincerity packed into every syllable. You can tell these words come from a very real place, and it makes a huge difference when we listen…I felt the same way about the way she rapped through “Can’t Stand The Rain” earlier on…different vibes between the two tracks for sure, but her writing & style has real tangible identity to it. She’s a highly effective wordsmith that knows how to take us listeners with her when she’s rappin’ by putting in honest emotions and vivid imagery into her lyricism, and the texture & tone of her voice in the verses she lays down always has the right energy to match the meaning behind her words & the way she’s feelin.’ I will confess that the hooks of “Can’t Stand The Rain” weren’t my favorites on the record…the verses were solid gold, but the hooks needed a bit more…something…and whatever that something might have been, different voice, different part or whatever – you get that here on “Sunshine,” which ends up feeling a bit more balanced from start to finish as a result. Don’t get me wrong though, Kenilworth Katrina’s an essential contributor to this record’s successful lineup of songs and both give you glimpses into what she’s capable of in two unique ways – she proves through her performance on both that she can serve up versatility and thrive in multiple realms of style & sound. I also loved the fact that you get about a good ninety seconds at the end of “Sunshine” to simply chill along with the uplifting hypnotic vibes, hooks, and charming personality of Katrina to bring this home.
Surron’s just puttin’ on a verbal clinic at this point in the record now, NBD…you know how it is, just pay attention if you wanna hear how it’s done right on the mic is all, completely up to you. LISTEN to this man will ya? The way he phrases, pivots, and breaks up his words syllable by syllable to suit the style of his flow & the needs of the song – The 7th brings poetic fire to his rhymes & controls his craft with the art of a true wordsmith. All the proof you need, he’s technically already given ya! But in case you need just a BIT more, BST has got you covered, with a final appearance to remember & bring the guest-spots to a close on “One Shot” before the “Outro” takes place. Musically, Blue Soul Ten’s got a real standout here too – from the moment “One Shot” begins, you can hear the audible difference it makes on an artistic & even somewhat more experimental direction…and I want a WHOLE LOT MORE of THIS. The difference it makes to the uniqueness is pretty much mind-blowing, subtle as it may appear – the facts of the matter are that, Blue Soul Ten is rockin’ this cut much differently than the approach you usually find from BST…and while it might have felt at the time of it being an instrumental that it could have been wandering too far out there for someone to find their way into – that’s where the supreme skillset of Surron The 7th comes on in to show y’all how it’s done one last time. “It’s that connection man, on a deeper level, tapped-in” – you almost don’t even notice Surron The 7th saying this as the track is fading out at the end; he’s playing it like an afterthought in that moment, but really when it comes right down to it, he’s simply tellin’ ya the facts of the matter. Like anything can be an instrument in the hands of a musician, any beat can become a masterpiece with the right wordsmith on the mic…and between them, they shift what would have potentially been more of an experimental cut, into a savagely addictive & highly memorable highlight on this record before the very end. While BST remains one of the most active out there in the scene with a standard of pretty much a new record every year right down to the date on your calendars, Blue Soul Ten doesn’t show up unless it’s stocked & loaded with real material, ideas, and sound that’ll make the impact it truly should. At this point in his career, this man can’t seem to miss, and this whole lineup of songs is all the proof you’d need of that.
Ay! Speaking OF! Will you looky & listen here y’all? Is that the man himself? Yes indeed it IS! None other than the guy behind the music of Blue Soul Ten (?) shows up at the end to lay it all out for ya at the end – and this was a completely stellar move – maybe even one of my favorite cuts in the BST catalog simply based on the fact that he absolutely NAILS this “Outro.” On the one hand, he’s used it cleverly at the start to use this cut as a platform for the credits at first, showing love to the artists he’s worked with on this record – and on the other, he’s brilliantly used his time to really let us listeners get to know the man behind the music, his story, his motivations, and what inspires him to do what he does so well. Guy invites you in like family here at the end of the new BST record, and he’s put himself out there in a really new way for himself by even making this personal appearance, whereas he’s usually situated comfortably behind the boards mixin’ it up in production. After all he’s done & accomplished, not just for his own music, but the scene around him as well – the man has EARNED his place in the spotlight at the end of The Incredible Sound Of Blue – and since he’s saw fit to take a moment to shout-out those that have helped make his world & music a better place so selflessly on the “Outro” – I felt like it was only fitting to extend the same courtesy to him here myself. Dude’s an important figure out there in the world of music…he’s a guy that truly gets it, inside & out. Not only is he tremendously talented, but at its fundamental core, what he’s started in Blue Soul Ten has always been about showcasing the brilliance of others and what they can bring to a collaboration with their own creativity…and that my friends, is a beautiful thing. Art inspires art, as we always say around these pages of ours – and talent attracts talent as well…you combine those two elements together, and you’ll find you’ve got yourself a perpetual motion machine built on pure motivation, inspiration and dedication that practically runs on its own…just like you’ll hear happening at the core of Blue Soul Ten and with all of its surrounding guest-stars, because the interest, passion, and commitment is all completely there, present & accounted for, from the music to the microphone, 100%. What a fantastic way to “put a stamp on this project” & leave us on a spectacularly uplifting final cut – you can hear the sincerity in this last track through the details & words he’s laying out at the end here…and this last heart-to-heart is just another reason to love the man & the music he’s making. Another triumph from beginning to end, Blue Soul Ten remains incredibly essential listening.
Find out more about Blue Soul Ten from the official website at: http://www.bluesoulten.com
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