MC Blu, aka Johnson Barnes, returns with his first studio album since 2009′s Her Favorite Colo(u)r. This time recording under the moniker B, Barnes delivers Jesus, one of this summer’s smoothest groupings of hip-hop tracks.
Wielding his new name as a vehicle to experiment with a different style, Barnes lets his listeners know that he really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about choruses and hooks. With Jesus, Blu puts lyrics and vocals in the back seat, leaving the album’s rhythm and mood in the forefront. Using slow drum beats and samples from some of the dirtiest, dustiest crates of ’60s and ’70s soul, R&B, doo-wop and southern funk, B successfully creates one overarching smooth, laid-back feel for the album’s 11 tracks.
The slow-rolling production on Jesus is so relaxing at times that it will almost put a listener to sleep. Another thing that may contribute to that is the low-fi quality of the vocal recordings. A lot of the time, B is barely comprehensible. He also sounds like he skipped any chance to step into a vocal booth to do any recordings for the album, instead opting to use a other things like his buddy’s iPhone recorder or the tape deck found in his basement, all utilized in uncontrolled environments like the kitchen or back porch during a post work relaxation session.
However, the low-fi recording doesn’t necessarily detract from the album’s overall quality, instead completing the mood. Squeaky clean vocals put to dirty, grimy beats like this would throw everything off, making the effort seem forced. B’s passive mood isn’t meant to be a storming force moving in today’s hip-hop environment. It instead works as the perfect cool breeze to float through, carrying away the blunt smoke.