Indie Rapper Blu has always shifted the paradigms of his sound, going from mixtape to mixtape and album to album; however, before I ever heard his debut Below The Heavens, there was Her Favorite Colo(u)r. His projects have enveloped consistent themes on multiple levels, sometimes digging beyond conceptual equilibrium. Her Favorite Colo(u)r is told through the duality of expressionism and artistic representation, as the film dialogue samples become a representation of Blu’s character — in most cases inadvertently since these films are also part of Blu’s struggle with hip-hop.
Blu has never been a show-off emcee, declaring so on the song “Amnesia”: “Fuck a rapper/I’m an actor in a film called/Leave me the fuck alone til’ I find a real job.” To him, this is a job and aspiration. And it becomes conflicting with these external situations weighing on him hard, further becoming an existential distraction. It is why “Amnesia” represents his character as a rapper — mirrored by consistent output over the last decade-plus. Interestingly, Her Favorite Colo(u)r is one of the few Blu projects where the samples guide the trajectory of the moods and sounds.
On Her Favorite Colo(u)r, Blu breaks down walls and barriers using a style not seen as often. Mac Miller did similarly with K.I.D.S. as it used a film and some of the quotations and meanings to dictate the kind of story Mac wanted to share. Instead, Blu builds upon it by equating his favorite movies to the moods that have befallen him — based on his life to this point. Most times, it’s the emotional imbalances that happen as he struggles with his partner’s infidelity. His emotions shift on a paradigm, and in the intro, he questions why he keeps things stored, especially in love. In “Morning,” he uses the scene from Closer where Clive Owen discovers his wife’s infidelity, and the argument they have is reflective of some of the songs where Blu focuses on their fights.
Her Favorite Colo(u)r is Blu’s “I Used To Lover H.E.R.” The song by Common broke down the intricacies of rap and the broader range it can reach, which in turn flips into dissing gangster rap and the purview it delivers on the music, even though this problem comes from a separate barrier to film subtitles, which people can’t get through. Her Favorite Colo(u)r, in particular, is referential toward this notion, as Blu speaks on music as his significant other, explaining through relationship-based terminology. He brings these allusions in his verses, like in “When(Terlude),” where raps: “Happy just to be with Classy as a drink/Ink pen separation, been a minute since.”
But this all begins with “Love,” which samples the birthday scene in Punch Drunk Love. In this scene, Barry Egan suffers through typical sibling bashing as his sisters question his relationship status — particularly, the why. They allude to the potential notion that it stems from being gay due to the timidness and never seeing him with a date. The riffing is expressed through a means of normality since they are siblings, and it’s been a thing since they were kids — at this moment, being called gayboy hit his peak, and a mental breakdown occurs where.
The focus of this scene is love. It starts with Barry’s sisters questioning his lack of a significant other and forcing a meaning that love is crucial for happiness. Unfortunately, Barry’s unstableness reflects some of the more impulsive decisions he makes, despite some kind of clear understanding of his doing. Like music, one’s sound is ever-changing, and sometimes they let pieces of genius slip. Blu, like others, has been told to stop the artistic direction because of one’s margin for error toward heightening success. Hip-Hop has given him the rough end of the stick with songs that detail their issues, like the arguments on “When(Terlude),” which refers to his struggle with writer’s block.
As well, It mirrors the constant directional focus Blu has on the music, retrospectively. At the time, it speaks on his emotional struggle with hip-hop. Before, he had highs with Below the Heavens, before falling into becoming another underground mainstay with projects like Johnson&Johnson, which featured some notable pop artists at the time like John Legend. It’s reflective in the song “Vanity,” where Blu looks at trying to perfect his flaws, despite it being a part of him — both in hip-hop and in life. For him, his flaws related to his reach as an artist. His sound isn’t necessarily pop or radio-friendly, especially in hip-hop stations. Unfortunately, they are still pop. After going through this, he starts to understand that the reach will grow with him as he sticks to his identity and focuses on the words — similar to Postmaster P in Leprechaun In The Hood.
In “Vanity,” he uses the word as a double entendre that focuses on his issues, trying to grow away from them — even when his friends speak on it being a sentiment he is feeling. Vanity, in terms of film, usually relates to the depth of the character. When a critic laments the lack of vanity, they are saying they lack depth due to unrewarding character growth.
Becoming the antithesis of Blu’s persona, the music he bouts with has become a consistent identity of his music. Many of his music has been a remnant — albeit consistently unique variations — of his sound since Below the Heavens and the intricate jazz and soul samples cut between songs and vocal interludes. It’s a sample-heavy project that adds to a traditional stepping stone for hip-hop. What cuts deep is the unique sample of “You And Whose Army?” by Radiohead on “Untitled (LovedU) 2,” interplaying a verse detailing an inner squabble with detail.
Her Favorite Colo(u)r flows with the samples that underline the elegant and calm-like summer-vibez centric percussion. It’s tangential with letting the words retain focus while the backing production creates the flow from start to finish since he constructs a soliloquy. With the interludes and songs that reflect variations of his struggle, like on “Pardon,” Blu is self-aware as he fights with himself about how he will be in the future as an artist (selling out) and how the experiences may reflect his views on others. The song closes with a line from the documentary, Crumb, about cartoonist Robert Crumb — known for his adult-like and satirical comics, like Fritz the Cat and Weirdo — “You think those guys look like they’ll ever be sensitive to my record collection? (laughing)/A bunch of football jocks, ‘What do you got here? A bunch of old albums or something?'” With it, Blu reveals how he compares to heavyweights; he likes the niche, others like the cool.
It’s funny; throughout my years writing about music, movie references have been prominent in creating analogies and scenes in hip-hop music — sometimes dialogue samples would be implemented for the atmosphere or to perpetuate an identity, like Wu-Tang. Others use dialogue samples from films more resonate with their culture and create an identity for the song — see “Success” on the Jay-Z album American Gangster or “Chuckie” by Geto Boys. These films derive from a cave filled with VHS and old LaserDiscs of Gangster, Hood, and Music related films. Like Blu, there are rare and random ones like Gravediggaz sampling Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.
On Her Favorite Colo(u)r, Blu brought in a collection of his favorite movies, viewed from a different lens. He guides us through a beautiful soliloquy that remedies his issues with music. Seeing it as another entity lets the project have a broader platform. For Blu, music has been a crutch and a dream. I’ve delivered to you a layout of what consists of this project. And I hope my job continues and implores you to seek this project.