Today, April 15, is the 35th birthday of L.A. based rapper Blu. This conscious rhyme slinger and former XXL Freshman has been fighting his way through the ranks of the music business for years.

Born Johnson Barnes in San Pedro, Calif., Blu was heavily influenced by both gospel and gangsta rap growing up. He started off as a hypeman for local acts, but was soon inspired to try his hand at rhyming. Blu's 2007 debut album, Below the Heavens, caught the attention of fans and critics for its insightful, indie-rap vibe. At the time, Blu quickly shot to the forefront of underground rap, his specific brand of music was resonating in a special way. His 2008 follow up, Johnson&Johnson with producer Mainframe, featured old jazz influences for a neo-soul sound. After earning a spot on XXL's 2009 Freshmen cover, Blu went on to work with Talib Kweli,, Kid Cudi and more and has released over a dozen studio albums to date.

Blu has become known as one of the best rappers in L.A.'s underground scene and has been cooking up material with New York rapper ScienZe. Take a listen to their track, "Southside, Queens."

The year 2017 also saw the reunion of Blu and Exile with the prequel album In the Beginning: Before the Heavens and entirely brand new music from the duo, like "Christmas Missed Us." He likely has more new music on the way.

Happy Birthday, Blu!

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