Jacques Bruna, known to his fans as bleubird, dropped his first official US release on February 24th. Cannonball!!! is the first album of 2012 released by Circle Into Square, a partner label with Fake Four Inc., and it should set the tone for an interesting year for the label. This diverse and witty collection of freestyle rap, candy coated pop beats, catchy choruses and well placed harmonies was produced by Fake Four family members, Astronautalis and Radical Face, who also appear on of few of the album’s tracks as well.
The album kicks off with a darker sounding track, “Fog Rollin’”. A slower paced song, with swaying deep rhythms that build into more aggressive rhymes and pounding electro-laced beats that really embody the title. “GIEHE 1977” tells the story of a little village in Italy that was his father’s hometown and is just as much interesting in story as it is in sound. bleubird’s southern Florida roots are extremely evident in “Black Sandcastles”. Between the booty poppin’ bass and the comical rhymes it transports me back to my days living in Daytona Beach in the 1990’s. Add in the catchy pop bass line and the easily chanted chorus and you are left with a track that seems to be begging for a shot at being this year’s quintessential summer jam. My personal favorite on the record is “Hello Hallow”, which is a kicked back, jazzy track that would play perfectly in a spoken word style setting with a little bit of candlelight and a straight whiskey. Astronautalis is on vocals and the harmonies are flawless. Stuck in between all of this is a stripped down, acoustic southern style sing along track, “Christian Wife”. Finally, “Time 4Real”, featuring another Fake Four posse member, Ceschi, is a more emotional feeling track, with melodic piano and soft sweet female vocals hidden in the background, it laments living the rap life. I feel like this track standouts as a highlight of who bleubird may be striving to become as an artist.
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Overall, every song on Cannonball!!! sounds completely different from the one before it, which may or may not have been intended by the artist. Although many of the songs stand well on their own, listening to the record from beginning to end was slightly jarring. There is an ease and flow of cohesion that is lacking, which often distracted me from the music itself. For his first official release, bleubird shows tremendous potential. I only wish I could have taken away a better idea of who he is as an artist from this record. He attempts to balance the serious, the sentimental and the playful and does so fairly well, and his passion is most certainly evident. You can hear that he’s hungry, and that means going nowhere but up. So hungry, in fact, that he started a Kickstarter project to raise funds to make the first video for the album. Inspired by old school Blaxploitation films and shot in Miami on 8mm film, the video for “Pimp Hand” is incredibly clever.