East Bay rapper, Azure (pronounced “azur-ay”),has bestowed us with a gift today: His latest album, Leap Year. The 12-track project, which is Azure's fourth, is a heady mix of old-school samples and thumping 808's, laced with the 27-year-old's quotidian raps about life, the universe, and everything. There's a strong jazz and soul element to Leap Year that pairs well with Azure's conversational flow and uniquely sharp, crisp voice.
[jump] The project itself has been a longtime coming. Azure's previous album, Mint Condition, dropped in May of 2013, and the rapper was sidetracked for most of 2014 with a group album that he was working on with his rap crew, Down 2 Earth. Leap Year was originally slated to come out in summer of 2015, but the deadline was pushed back to, well, today because dropping it then seemed too rushed (“There was actually a lot of finishing touches that were still needing to happen,” Azure says) and then he was on tour for most of the fall and winter with Iamsu! (whom he DJs for).
Weirdly enough, the push back worked to the album's advantage because, whatdoyouknow, this year is a leap year. The album's name was originally intended to be a literal interpretation of the words. “I felt like this last year, I'd done things that surprised myself, as far as all the steps I've been able to take for my music,” he says. “It was just like a big leap, I guess.” Plus, Azure, himself, was born during a leap year, so the name worked for that reason, too. But now the name is even better because of the timely factor of releasing it on an actual leap year.
Azure, who not only raps and DJs, but produces and writes his own songs, too, has been making beats and raps since high school, and Leap Year is easily his strongest project, to date. It features many local artists, like Jay Ant, Clyde Shankle, 1-O.A.K. and Marc E. Bassy, and each song is different from the next.
Take a listen below and keep an eye out for our print feature on Azure which drops this Thursday.