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What can I say? Another day, another legendary act here on WCS. Today we bring you L.A. underground favorites Blu & Exile. If you haven’t listened to their classic albums, Below The Heavens, and, In The Beginning: Before The Heavens, you need to load them up in your digital streaming platforms. In this new HipHop50 interview, the duo link up with our own Todd “DG” Davis to answer the series’ hip-hop questions. Read below!

First things first, this year (August 11th) 

marked the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop 

— What exactly does that mean to and for you? 

BLU: I am completely biased about the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop because I feel accepted, as if I am one with Hip Hop. The 65th Grammys had a 50th Hip Hop tribute,

and my name was placed on a list full of other great Hip Hop artists as the background on the stage behind Hip Hop’s greatest performing.

So, I feel like a part of me turned 50 really; it’s huge, monumental. I am extremely honored.

EXILE: It’s really mind blowing to me, that I’ve been an active part of the music culture since 1994, the creation of my fist sold mixtape. That’s 29 years out of the 50; that’s not counting my graffiti days, and time honing my skills before the tape dropped. I’ve given more than half my life to Hip Hop, and that’s all I ever wanted to do. All of my childhood dreams have already been fulfilled with what I’ve been blessed to create, and I’m honored to feel accepted to have contributed to this culture. Now it’s time for current dreams to come true, in ways that honor and protect the culture, through what’s to be created from here on out, by me and my crew.

To quote the late, great The Notorious B.I.G., “You never thought that Hip Hop would take it this far!” — Was this something that you ever could’ve imagined? 

BLU: No, unfortunately I looked at the culture of Hip Hop from a millennial angle. I was trying to get in the game and get mine before the doors closed, I was already late. That was in 1998. I still can’t see how far Hip Hop will go now. The core, which is the music, is changing and melding other genres so much

that I have no idea what the culture will sound like, stand for or be, 20 years from now. Let alone 50.

EXILE: I definitely imagined how far Hip Hop would go, but it’s still unbelievable to witness. Low key, I would get pissed each time I would see Hip Hop in the mainstream. Back then, I guess there was a gate keeping vibe, but it was out of respect of preserving the culture. Like you wouldn’t hip someone to some new shot unless they were schooled and understood why it was so special. Sharing tapes or make dubs of your favorite joints was a special thing, so when MC Hammer was on a Pepsi commercial it threatened how Hip Hop would be understood. I did not like that shit. But I did fuck with Hammer’s first 2 tapes, don’t get me wrong. lol!

What are some of your fondest, most stand-out moments / 

memories from your lengthy tenure in this thing called Hip Hop?

BLU: I am constantly and always have been most amazed at all the love I get from Hip Hop.

The support system and belief system in Hip Hop is uncanny. My fondest memories are either working or being acknowledged by my role models in the game. Free-styling on stage with KRS, with Busy Bee doing adlibs, and Grandmaster Caz spinning, all before I dropped my first album, stands out brighter than everything. KRS is my favorite MC of all time! We made a song right before he brought me to a Wild Style party and we ripped the stage. Also, I hold the moment Dilla gave me respect, and said he was down to produce on my debut album, higher than most memories as well. Dilla is my favorite producer of all time. Turn it up!

EXILE: I’ve been imagining my part in Hip Hop in my mind since I was 11. Once I fell in love with Hip Hop, I knew I would do whatever it took to create it. I used to practice, scratching in my room at age 15, imagining in my head that I was at a Boogie Down Production’s concert, and KRS-One said to the audience that his DJ couldn’t make it and if there is anyone in the audience that could DJ for him. In my mind / in my room, I said “yes, KRS ONE, I can DJ for you!“ KRS said, “well, come up here on stage, kid, let me see what you can do,” and I started scratching, as if I went on stage to prove to KRS-One I was nice on the cuts, when I was really just in my room, scratching fantasizing I was dj’ing for him. Fast forward like 12 years later, me and Blu were really in a room with KRS-One! I made a song with him, and later he invited us to one of his shows. Turned out his DJ was actually nowhere to be found!! And, I was actually asked to DJ for KRS-One!!! I went on stage and started to prepare, when his DJ finally arrived…well I almost got to fulfill this childhood fantasy, but I stayed on stage, watched the whole show, and KRS one shouted me out over his classic “I’m Still Number One!”

…Another fond moment was pre-internet hustle. I was 17, standing outside of Hip Hop clubs selling homemade tapes of my mixes, and beats [with Aloe Blacc on the raps], we were known as Emanon. Those days of not being known and just selling tapes to a stranger, or jumping on stage in front of a crowd, who’s never heard of you, and then just shutting shit down was the most incredible feeling, that’s different from shutting shit down on stage as a known artist.

That said, what are your future plans and / 

or goals throughout the remainder of 2023, going right into ‘24? 

BLU: Fortunately, more music. I just released an EP with Real Bad Man called Bad News in August, and I plan on releasing another special project before the year ends!

EXILE: Prepare the release of the next Blu & Exile album, my next instrumental album Exile Radio 2, another album with Fashawn and much more. I’m putting myself in a position to release more material, to help bring balance to this culture that desperately needs, balance.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?    

BLU: Love, excitement, knowledge, wisdom, confidence, motivation, and empathy.

Those are things I get from my favorite Hip Hop songs.

EXILE: I want to be seen as a producer who brought new emcees to light. I don’t want to be seen as someone who just followed who was hot. But someone who stood by the emcees who came up with me. I always strived to make music that sounded like me, my style.


On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop? 

BLU: Oooh, that’s a tough one. I would definitely love more respect, support and music

for and from our pioneers, our OG’s.

They still hear, they still got skill, and still have a lot to say, teach and pass down.

They need and we need that platform available. I love that we are broadening our foundation, ultimately becoming more successful, but it’s about time this “lottery pick” record label love gets more spread out

to more deserving contributors to the culture.

EXILE: There’s still a lot of dope raw shit out there, but the Instagram, streaming platforms and greed has really taken its toll on Hip Hop. Once you were able to see how much something was streamed or how many likes something got, it changed everything. Now you can see, “oh, this style is hot, this is what people like,” so people would copy what “worked” instead of doing them. It fucked up originallity, because now you are actually seeing what’s really poppin’. Record labels just stated turning out artists like these, like they know what sells. Fast food. Big Mac and fries sell, so if you don’t got grease and American cheese we don’t want it. lol! seems like a lot of people, understand what sells, and Most of what sells, is sex, stealing yo bitch, doing drugs, selling drugs, no new friends, make money, out for self bullshit. A lot of rapping at you, a lot of shit that makes you feel like you ain’t good enough. There’s no balance. Sure, there’s always been some of this in Hip Hop, but there was plenty of balance of music that uplifted you or was just fun. No one respects or cares about the history. It’s almost become cool to not care about the history. I really hope Hip Hop 50 and all the awareness around it has helped change that. I mean, I’ve experimented and made Trap and I get it, but I must admit I’m so sick of it. It’s destroying Hip Hop. I honestly feel like there’s a lot of evil that has came with it, and it most definitely is affecting the people that listen to it; It’s most definitely changing people. Fuck that! But, I’m going to honor the culture, I’m going to try my best to help maintain a balance.

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?   

BLU: Skill, relativity and diversity, will push you further than everything else.    


 EXILE: Consistency, and maintaining my style.


Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, 

maybe even completely away from entertainment?

BLU: No, all my dreams are entertainment related.

Music, film, books and art forever!

EXILE: I’ve always wanted to do more acting. I’ve taken some classes. I’m writing a book slowly but surely, so I do have aspirations to be a published writer.

What’s an average day like for you?

BLU: I have two different types of days every week.

Either dad day when I am with my son,

or rapper day when I am working my ass off.

EXILE: Haha! I bike, hike, read, dig for records, swim at the beach, sometimes paint graff pieces, and try to find inspiration for making beats.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans… 

BLU: Twitter, all day! lol.

EXILE: We are sure to sign autographs, draw graff letters on their vinyl every time after our shows, and talk to fans and hang out for awhile all the time, and we like to give them  a special merchandise, as well as interact with them on social media.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? 

Your least favorite? And, why? 

BLU: My favorite part about being a rapper is making the music to make a living.

It is so cool, free, fresh and exciting. I love it!

My least favorite is making the music to make a living, I wish I can make the art without bills, rent, food and clothing fees being a key motivating factor to be successful.

EXILE: My least favorite part is how saturated the game is, because of social media. My favorite part is connecting with people through the music we make; whether it be live or recorded.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

BLU: Read and do the research to educate yourself and drop that knowledge. All I ever wanted to do was drop knowledge, not that I know there is no ledge to knowledge, and all you have to do is learn something new to have a gem to give someone through a rap lyric.

EXILE: Use your imagination, and never give up. Visualize and fantasize about what you want to do. Be so hungry for the feeling of accomplishing your fantasy, that you will do anything to achieve it, with whatever you have. Be so hungry for it that you will live in a hole in the wall if you need to so you can focus on music and not worry about a nine to five. Let the struggle make you feel pride for paying dues. Don’t be on Instagram all day. There’s no answers there. The answers are in your heart and mind. Eventually, you will need the gram to promote but don’t get hooked. Stay hooked to music.

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?  

BLU: Hopefully, owning a house and a car. That would be a definite game changer, accomplishment and trophy.

EXILE: With 11 new albums out, on an island drinking Piña Coladas, celebrating how me and Blu saved Hip Hop.

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?   

BLU: You didn’t ask what is my secret to being the greatest MC of all time!?

Any “parting” words for our readers?

BLU: Be God, peace.

EXILE: Clear your life up to find inspiration, to give thanks, and to connect with that thing you love, again and again.

#Blu #Exile #Underground #hiphop


Underground legends Blu & Exile join us for an exclusive WCS HipHop50 interview!

Underground legends Blu & Exile join us for an exclusive WCS HipHop50 interview!

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