Music is an art form is something that resonates strongly with me as I’m sure it does with most people reading this article. However, when mixing musical passions with that of Blerd culture, a unique concoction of audio excellence is birthed. I wanted to talk about the albums of the past year, but I simply couldn’t over look some of the rhythmic gems buried beneath years of new and fading memories. Take the music listed here and inject them in year eardrums if you already haven’t. This is music that speaks to us on another level. While Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole may qualify, and are undoubtedly some of the best artists currently around, this article will speak to those that most closely embrace the blerd ambiance.
We got it From Here... Thank You For Your Service- A Tribe Called Quest (2016)
We thought they were gone. We thought they were done. We were wrong. Early 2016 we tragically lost Phife Dawg, but after years, we learned that before his death, he linked back up with the Tribe, made amends, and recorded a litany of vocals, that many of which were featured on the 2016 album. The fact that the Tribe is back together is a gift in itself and after piles of subpar “rap” the group came back with the same classic sound, and dropped new, real Hip Hop, giving us all a breath of fresh air amid the toxic waste that calls itself “mainstream” rap today. ATCQ comes back with political relevance and intellectual lyricism that we just don’t get in enough doses anymore today. God bless ‘em.
Electric Lady- Janelle Monae (2013)
Janelle Monae is a beautiful blerd and there is no way she can deny it. Her music is literally electricity mixed with hip-hop, R&B, and jazzy cabaret, and her themes are nothing short of classy, sexy, futuristic Sci-fi. In Electric Lady the beautiful chocolate skinned women of Electro Phi Beta walk you through a dynamic feminist world of androids and unapologetically big booties while making a statement about being a strong black woman, comfortable in her body and skin. Feature with artist like the late Prince, and Miguel along with heavy guitar strings and hard hitting snares meld with Janelle’s powerful voice to create a stunning, instant classic.
Food & Liquor- Lupe Fiasco (2006)
When Lupe Fiasco debuted with his first album, he immediately became my favorite rapper. Intellectually superior to nearly every artist of the year, and a lyrical flow to which few can compare, Lupe Fiasco brought a poetic, thought provoking platter of the good and the bad, and distinguished between the two with clear, clever metaphors. Hitting on several issues with songs like “Real” and “He Say She Say” and managing to hit on his many passions and nerdoms at the same time, the lyricist managed to bring into existence one of the best albums of all time. Any Blerd can appreciate the art and message behind both this and his second album The Cool
Coloring Book- Chance the Rapper (2016)
Coloring Book is Chance the Rapper’s 3rd official album. When think about the contents of this project, thanks to the words of a fellow blerd, Hip Hop artist and tech enthusiast, Small Eyez, the words “Explicit Gospel” always come to mind, because that’s exactly what it is. Chance is a esteemed Chi-town and lyricist and undoubtedly a quirky, goofy blerd in his own right, but while his genre isn’t necessarily gospel, his positive vibes carry with them a powerful spiritual resonance that uplifts the mainstream audience as well as those who are more strict with what they listen to. And this isn’t only evident on this album. Check out his songs “Sunday Candy” or his feature on “Ultra Light Beam” and you’ll understand the extent to which these words ring true. If you want a taste of who Chance is and what he’s about, I’d recommend this album first above any of his others.
Camp- Childish Gambino (2010)
If you a blerd, and you like Hip Hop music, this album is a necessity. If I were to write an article on the word “Blerd” and put it in an encyclopedia, Donald Glover’s picture would be there. He is the epitome of what it means to be a blerd and his album Camp perfectly encapsulates that. The album starts with “Outside” which gives us a succinct origin story, if you will, that expresses the struggles of being a black kid, and simply being different, as well as personal thoughts about family and what the world looks like through the eyes of a nerdy black kid. The rest of the album only blossoms this theme into a highly relatable masterpiece that mixes struggles, passions, and and the extremes of relationships and awkward crushes from a unique perspective. Donald Glover is an artist in every sense of the word, and if you want a musical picture you can relate to, this was painted just for you.
All of these albums are currently streaming via Spotify. There are certainly more classic blerd albums that I myself have missed and haven’t had the pleasure of hearing. If you have some that you think fit the bill and aren’t listed here, be sure let me know in the comments below!