With the rise of the independent artist and the ability to make quality music from your home studio, there are a plethora of artists releasing music. Some have the help of getting co-signs by major artists, while some have to put out a lot of music and hope people catch on to it. Sometimes it all comes down to album artwork. There are differing views about how much work should go into album artwork, but I think it matters. If I do not know an artist at all, but it looks like they care about their craft simply by their album art, I will want to check it out.
B-Luv fell into the last category for me. I saw the tracklisting and amazing features, but that did not reel me in. I was impressed that Growth was his debut album and his album cover had him looking like a veteran. I did not know what to expect. I wanted the quality of the artwork to trickle down into production and craft. In this album review, I’ll share what I discovered.
As soon as I turned on the first track, I was impressed. It was crisp and it was clean. But I was intrigued by something different. I liked the theatrics in the songs. In the first bit of tracks, B-luv weaves skits throughout the music and it allows for exciting imagery. For instance, on the first track “Opening Night,” you hear claps and even echoes at different moments. It correlates with the title of the track and has you feeling like you’re hearing an opening act at a showcase.
The next track that displayed this was “Graduation.” Again, the way it was produced will have the listener in the moment. Despite the theatrics, the music was still beautiful. The production on this project seemed to get better and better as the project progressed. When you reach the last track, “Success.Fear.Reflection,” you will feel like you just listed to a production.
The music was not your average hip hop music. It was a wonderful blend of rap, R&B, and Gospel. You were able to hear 808’s to violins, to an entire orchestra at times. It was a beautiful blend of sounds that stayed consistent. The songs did not sound the same, but each song was crafted with care and detail.
Stand Out Track: “Guidance” ft. Da T.R.U.T.H., TWyse & Darion Ja’Von
I mentioned that the album artwork intrigued me because it looked like B-Luv cared about his music. However, I did not know what to expect from him. The cover reminded me of Canton Jones’ Dominionare. I was not sure if he was a rapper or a singer, or maybe both. As I listened to the album, I found out quickly that he was a rapper. He was very polished as he rapped over the smooth beats. I think the music complimented his flow because the production did not clutter his it.
I’m not against an album that sounds “preachy,” because some music in the Christian hip hop genre is made to uplift and speak to believers. I feel that B-Luv did this wonderfully on “Growth.” I do not think it sounded preachy, but he weaved scripture all throughout the record. On his track, “Grow” feat. Jai, he starts by quoting Hebrews 12:11 and goes on to deliver verses that encourage all believers to endure the pain of growth for the sake of growing. He speaks in first person, but anyone listening can take from what he’s sharing. Sometimes a personal testimony is all someone needs to hear to be encouraged in their own situations.
Stand Out Track: “The Greatest” ft. Darion Ja’Von
Not every rapper has the privilege of having a multitude of high quality artists on their debut album. I think this helped B-Luv greatly. It was not that he needed their help, but it showcased how much talent he has. He collaborated with Da’ T.R.U.T.H and TWyse and did not get left behind or carried through the track. It sounded organic. Other notable features included Isaiah Tate, B.Reith, Jai, Co Campbell, J.R., Canton Jones and Leah Smith. Each featured artist met the need of the track with excellence. The artists that sang on his songs did not outshine him either. They seemed like the perfect additions for what he was trying to do with his music.
For instance, Leah Smith, who is featured on “Eternity,” provides a smooth tranquil sound when she sings. On this track, B-Luv focuses on thinking about eternity to endure present trials and tribulations. Leah Smith sings:
“I will be with the King in Eternity, Eternity/Bowing before your throne in Eternity, Eternity.”
When she sings this, you hear the passion, but it does not overpower the overall vibe. Her voice was a perfect fit to communicate our longing for Eternity in a sincere, honest way. Leah Smith is one example, but all of the features fit their tracks in the same way.
Stand Out Track: “Graduation Day” ft. Isaiah Tate & B.Reith
You can take a title like Growth in many different directions. I was not sure where B-Luv was going because this was his debut album. I think I got more than I bargained for.
From the opening track to the last, the listener gets to hear B-Luv grow. We start at the opening act, then he takes us through college graduation to growing as a believer to getting married to doing music full time. It was a wonderful experience because many listeners will be able to relate to different stages or situations that he addresses, which occur in life.
On his track “Guidance,” I felt like I witnessed discipleship over wax. Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and TWyse dropped verses from a mentor’s perspective and impart wisdom to him. It was encouraging because guidance from believers that have been walking out their faith longer than you will always be beneficial.
Da’ T.R.U.T.H says:
“Don’t believe the hype, (or) believe the press/ because when it all fades, you’ll be depressed.”
And TWyse says:
“Never stick out your chest, never pop your collar/ It’s not about you B, It’s about the Father/If people try to give you glory, kindly give it back/ Never pocket none of that because that’s a booby-trap.”
I think that many will be blessed by this track alone.
As you hear different tracks about growing, B-Luv ends the album with a song called “Success.Fear.Reflection.” I thought this was a great ending to a great album. He ended not as if he had made it, but as if he realized that there is still a lot to learn and share. He shares his heart about the Christian hip hop scene when he says:
“Sometimes it feels like, if you aint signed to Reach/ most artists, blogs, and DJ’s won’t even speak./ It’s a shame in our genre we feel the need to compete/with one another, don’t we got the same goals to reach?”
I do not believe that he was taking shots at Reach Records, but he used that statement to express that as he grows as an artist, he wants to treat everyone as equal. I thought ending the album with how much more he wants to grow amidst the knowledge he has was wonderful. The album has nuggets of wisdom laced all throughout it.
Stand Out Track: “Success.Fear.Reflections”
I was thoroughly impressed with this record. Lovers of boom bap hip-hop may not vibe with it, but I think this album will be enjoyable to a wide variety of listeners. This album was full of encouragement and B-Luv takes you along his path to greater maturity. I think that this is the beginning of a great career in music for B-Luv. I also think that this will open the door for him to do more features with other artists.
Growth was released August 13th and is now available.