A rapper's box of tricks is pretty sparse, consisting of little more than his voice and his rhymes. Fortunately Blu, the underrated rapper originally from San Pedro, has been blessed with the best of both. His voice, smoky and sensual, slides effortlessly through complex lyrics that reference everything from Scripture to Shakespeare to Notorious B.I.G. (Not for nothing, he also has the sexiest descriptions of sex in the rap game.) His collaboration with local dream-weaving producer Exile, Below the Heavens, is one of the few albums from the aughts that made L.A. Weekly's greatest L.A. rap albums list, yet surprisingly few people have heard it. Remedy that. While you're at it, pick up their latest collaboration, Give Me My Flowers While I Can Still Smell Them, and expect to be spirited away to the duo's magical, nostalgic world. noyork.tumblr.com.

—Rebecca Haithcoat