BLUE SKY BLACK DEATH & NACHO PICASSO - Exalted

Exalted being the third collaborative mixtape from Nacho Picasso and Blue Sky Black Death recorded in a few months, it is somehow expected that, at such a stage, the work from the Seattle rapper and the two producers gets a bit less relevant. But actually, that's not the case. Released not long after Lord of the Fly, this project is, in reality, the best of the trilogy. It is also the first they didn't release for free. They might have assumed that, by now, their fans and listeners have become so addicted to their music, that they are ready to pay to get more.

BLUE SKY BLACK DEATH & NACHO PICASSO - Exalted

The cover art has a different flavor from the others. Naked women are still there, but the heroic fantasy imagery is gone. This time, Nacho Picasso dresses like Moses, mimicking Isaac Hayes on his Black Moses album. The content, though, remains the same. The two guys from Blue Sky Black Death, sometimes seconded by Raised byy Wolves, deliver the majestic and synthetic beats they are known for, while the Seattle MC raps with the raspy voice and the phlegmatic flow of someone too much on drugs. His style is at times bordering monotony, but thankfully, he knows when to stop and let his music breathe, like with the sumptuous "Swap 'em Out".

Nacho Picasso persists with his nasal voice and his gently ironic tone. He also likes to include pop culture references - the z-movie Surf Nazis Must Die, for example - into his stoned lyrics. It is still his usual kind of ego-trip, full of deadpan humor and self-mockery, like on "Tom Hanks", when he makes fun of major labels, allegedly unable to identify the great guy he pretends he is.

This mixtape sounds roughly the same as those before. And though, despite a few weak tracks by the end, it is superior. It has better ideas, like the indigenous chants on "Bloody Murder" or, in a similar vein, the voice of "Kickin' out Windows" – a sample of the Beastie Boys' "Stop that Train". The rapper, sometimes, is surprisingly altering the mood of the record, like with the ethereal "Haile Selassie", or with the unexpected melody on "4th of July", where Jeremy Cross sings on a particularly hypnotic beat. To summarize, his music is getting a bit more diverse, as demonstrated again with the harsh and fractured "Public Enemy". All of these tracks, details and ideas subtly differentiate Exalted from its predecessors, For the Glory and Lord of the Fly. They are great incentives to spend the additional 5 dollars requested this time, now that Nacho Picasso and his two buddies are worth it; now that they fully master their specific formula.

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