Dave B. is a Renaissance Man, Bleu is his Transcendent Blueprint
Evan Dale // June 9, 2019
Prolificity can be a curse for some artists. At times, too much music at too wide a range has a knack for desensitizing an audience to an artist’s releases while simultaneously diluting the depth of new music. When an artist releases nearly their entire album as a collection of thinly spread leading singles, the excitement attached to a project’s release is minimized. Though it can be enlightening and eye-opening to see how a collection of tracks can come together as a whole, there is something undeniably better about seeing how a well-thought collection of new music can be broken up into smaller pieces and single cuts. Which is why, when an artist is hellbent on being prolific, their` album better mirror that dedication to it.
Dave B.’s Bleu is a perfected exhibition of prolific poet’s ability to release something altogether new, experimental, and vibrant, even on the heels of so many unincluded single releases. It’s also an exhibition of so much more. Between lyrical endowment, stylistic transcendence, modern indefinability, and brash uniqueness, Dave B. delivers Bleu, an unprecedented collection 10 tracks deep that, in the shadow of seven single releases, brings an additional eight unheard songs into the emerging Seattle’s superstar’s canon.
For those new to party, Dave B.’s repertoire, grounded in his prolificity, is vast and explosive. Bleu is his fourth career album since his Punch Drunk debuted in 2015. And between now and 2017’s Pearl, he’s only ramped up his rate of delivery and his talent across the board. Amidst what must be somewhat of a creative awakening, he’s become unstoppable, emerging in the process a key figure on the modern school of artists that pride their rap ability in equal measure that they pride their production and their vocals.
Dave B. is a modern musical renaissance man, leading the creative charge for better art from more well-rounded artists. Bleu is his blueprint on how to make it all happen.
At 10 tracks and a half-hour in length, Bleu is pretty par for the course for Dave B. who has made a habit of mid-length projects with no wasted space and nothing left to be desired. At least not from Dave B. himself.
Instead, Bleu leaves something to be desired across the rest of the emergent grey area between hip-hop and R&B. Dave B. has mastered the sound that in many ways, with his releases over the past half-decade, have helped to drive the direction of experimental hip-hop and shifted the expectation toward the transcendentally capable.
Seamlessly floating in and out of vocals and fervent hip-hop lyricism in ways that few artists have ever been worth mentioning without dropping acclaimed names like Kid Cudi, GoldLink, Jay Prince, and Rexx Life Raj, Dave B. is amongst of the same company. In fact, his mastery of stylistic transcendence is so strong, it’s nearly impossible at any given moment throughoutBleu to label what it is that he’s doing.
Instead, it’s better to just accept that he’s invented something altogether new and unexplored.
Like many modern, emotionally in-touch rappers, Dave B. is open, personable, and vulnerable. From top to bottom – much akin to the recent release of Kota the Friend’s FOTO – Bleu’s storyline is driven by personal recounts and honest conversation with the artist himself. Dave B’s relatability stems from there, and his positivity amidst such relatability is inspiring and primed for the warm-weather months. Somewhere in the thematic exploration of his penmanship and the bubbliness in his voice, positivity has been a key element to Dave B.’s music from the beginning, placing his name also in the company of bubble rap stars like Chance the Rapper and Tobi Lou, where music breathes something indefinably fit for summer, for the beach, and for evening drives with the windows down. To it, Bleu is a quintessential summer album and will come to soundtrack a good many memories of the like.
But again, it’s much more than that. Bleu is a blueprint on lyricism, on vocals, and on their seamless transcendence. Bleu is a blueprint on self-love, on positivity, and on their necessity. But it’s also an album teeming with brute honesty and lyricism that calls to mind the uncertainty of life and of love. It’s wide-ranging, experimental, and scatter-brained with quick-paced stream of consciousness lyrics, leaving it painfully reminiscent of what our own thoughts would sound like had we the talent and courage of Dave B.
With his projects all boasting very different auditory aesthetics, comparisons are particularly difficult to draw. But it should go without saying that lyrically and vocally, Bleu is Dave B.’s best release of any kind to date. Growth towards the album was well-recorded with such a deep canon of singles, and that growth was stamped with the exclamation of so much new music on Bleuand its unexpected additions unfounded in popular singles like PRETTY and I Rhymed King With King, but instead exploring continuation.
If any immediate track is a standout, it’s hard to steer away from Grownish which with its title alone explores the theme of uncertainty, unearthing through its tagline even a deeper dive.
‘I got no answer for that’
And yet, it comes to mirror Bleu as a microcosm of uncertainty merging with acceptance, of consciousness merging with positivity, of hip-hop merging with R&B, and of lyricism merging with vocals.