The press release included with this album addressed my initial question of "Who the hell is Blee?" As it turns out, Blee is actually an acronym for Black Lion of Eternal Excellence. The name was bestowed upon him by his father and it has stuck with him. He's lived in a few places that range from the Caribbean to Canada to the UK, and as a result, Blee's music is a mixture of Caribbean swagger, the passion of the American hustle, and a slight touch of the British die-hard attitude...or at least that's what the press kit says.
One of my biggest gripes about this album isn't about the music, but rather the lack of a tracklisting of any sort. I went to Blee's website to see if I could find it but ended up navigating away empty-handed. Eventually I found the list on Reverbnation.com, but as a tip to Blee and any other artists: don't make your listeners go on a scavenger hunt to find out the titles of your songs. I'm just sayin'.
In any case, the album starts out with "I Am" (formerly known as "Track 01") and Blee tries his best to establish his identity. He tells the listener to say his name "three times in the mirror like Candyman". For what it's worth, Candyman's name actually needed to be repeated FIVE times, not three. Perhaps he was getting the character played by Tony Todd confused with Beetlejuice (or Betelgeuse, for you purists), who was portrayed by Michael Keaton. The first third of the album is relatively uneventful. It's not necessarily bad, but songs like "Street Jam" and "Caribbean Blood" just don't seem to have any memorable or redeeming qualities to them.
Moving into the middle portion of the album, we find Blee touching on topics like lost love on "Imagine" and envious naysayers on "The Truth". The production in this section isn't as pop-oriented and as a result, the effect of the songs seems to be more resounding. There's still a bit of catering to the ladies on the courting-by-numbers "Obsession", but I suppose there's nothing wrong with trying to get a little lovin' every now and then.
The final third of the album is by far the strongest. It has the best production and seemingly the most heartfelt topics, including self-preservation, personal development, and parental responsibility. "Sad State Of Affairs" (uh, I mean "Track 14") features a stellar guest verse, but I have no idea who it was due to the issue with the tracklist and all that. The album closes out with what amounts to be one of the best songs, "The Black Review". The production is built on piano loops and other stringed instruments and features audio clips of a speech by Malcolm X.
Honestly, I feel like it is those songs, similar to "Review" that best showcase the talent of Blee. I also get the feeling that those are the songs that he would most enjoy creating. Maybe at some point, someone told him that he needed to broaden his scope and the varied songs on this album is the outcome. Then again, I could be totally wrong and this is just who the hell Blee is after all.
Music Vibes: 6 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: December 15, 2009