In Atlanta, Georgia in March 2008.
In Atlanta, Georgia in March 2008.
Background information
Birth name Johnson Barnes
Origin San Pedro, California
Genres Underground hip hop
Occupations Rapper
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2004-present
Labels Sire/Warner Bros. Records
Associated acts Exile
Website MySpace Page

Johnson Barnes, better known as Blu, is an American rapper and producer [1] from San Pedro, California.[2] He is best known for his debut album, Below the Heavens, which was produced entirely by one half of Emanon, Exile.


Johnson Barnes' stepfather was a pastor, and gospel and Christian rap were an influence while at school.[2] Taking influence from Common, he turned from freestyle rhyming to crafting songs.[2] In his early days in the music business, Johnson worked as a hype man for underground rap and soul artists such as Slum Village, Steve Spacek, Platinum Pied Pipers, and Emanon.[2] He signed to Los Angeles independent label Sound in Color in 2004, choosing the label ahead of Interscope Records and Death Row Records.[2] He contributed a few tracks to Exile's 2006 Dirty Science album, and self-pressed his debut Lifted EP in 2006.[2] His debut album Below the Heavens was released in August 2007, Village Voice called it "one of the most thoughtful indie-rap releases in some time".[3] Blu is also involved in several other projects including Johnson&Jonson (with Mainframe) and C.R.A.C. (with Ta'Raach).[4]

Blu was named Rookie of the Year in 2007 by HipHopDX.[5]

He was also named to XXL magazine's Top 10 Freshmen of 09'.[6]




  • TheGodleeBarnes LP (2010)
  • NoYork! (2010)

With Exile

With Ta'Raach

With Mainframe


  • The C.O.R.E. Mixtape (2006)
  • So(ul) Amazing by *DJ Heat (Unofficial) (2008)
  • Blu: Drop The E (unofficial) (2008)
  • "So(ul) Amazing 2" by *DJ Heat (Unofficial) (2009)
  • HerFavoriteColo(u)r. (Official) (2009)
  • "So(ul) Amazing Three" by *DJ Heat (Unofficial)
  • Blu - Untaped [Mixtape] (2010)
  • ParieArtNommee (Official) (2010)


  • Get Lifted EP (2006)
  • The Narrow Path with Exile (2007)
  • "BeSene" EP (2008)(Blu & Sene as Patch Adams)
  • NoSleepForADay EP (2009)

As ProducerEdit

  • Sene - ADayLate&ADollarShort(2009)[1]
  • Open(theInstrumentalLP)ForTheHeadsWhoNeedBeats (2009)
  • NoSleepForADay EP (2009)

Guest appearancesEdit

  • "For Whom the Bell Tolls" from Evidence's The Layover EP (also featuring Phonte &
  • "Jazz (Tribute Remix)" from J Period's Q-Tip Mix Tape: The [Abstract] Best
  • "Vibrate" from Dela's Changes in Atmosphere
  • "Mars (Remix)" from Freddie Joachim's In With Time
  • "Mars" from Dela's Atmosphere Airlines Vol. 2
  • "Surrender" from Sepalot's "Red Handed"
  • "Wonder Why" from Blame One's Days Chasing Days
  • "Old Souls" from The Grouch & Eligh's Say G&E!
  • "The Times" from Keelay & Zaire's Ridin High (also featuring Fortilive & Nino Moschella)
  • "Get it Now" from Move.meant's The Scope of Things (also featuring Trek Life)
  • "Smoke" from J Dilla's posthumous album Jay Stay Paid
  • "Steel Remains" from Waxolutionists' We Paint Colors
  • "Morgan Blu" from Tanya Morgan's Brooklynati
  • "Hi(gh) Music" from Shingo Suzuki's The Abstract Truth
  • "Samsonite Man" from Fashawn's Boy Meets World
  • "Therapy" from Alchemist's "Chemical Warfare" (also featuring Evidence, Talib Kweli & Kid Cudi)
  • "Pour Another Glass" from Presto's State of the Art
  • "Hard Times" from Cadik's Basic
  • "DreamLand" from Andy Allo's UnFresh
  • "The Richers" from TiRon's MSTRD
  • "Radio Daze" and "The Day" from The Roots' How I Got Over


  1. 1.0 1.1 "", 2dopeboyz, New Music Cartel
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Cordor, Cyril "Blu Biography", Allmusic, Macrovision Corporation
  3. Caramanica, John (2008) "RISING UP: Wale’s about to hit the big time", Village Voice
  4. Yuscavage, Chris (2008) "INDEPENDENT", VIBE
  5. "2007 HipHopDX Awards", HipHopDX

External linksEdit