Johnson Barnes (born April 15, 1983), better known by his stage name Blu, is an American West Coast rapper and producer from Los Angeles, California. Following the major success of his 2007 debut album, Below the Heavens, Blu was named HipHop DX's "Rookie of the Year" . Since then, Blu has become one of the most prolific underground artists in the Los Angeles area, releasing "six full-length albums, and countless other projects and mixtapes" since his emergence on the rap scene . Blu has also become as proficient a producer as he has a rapper. In September of 2011, Blu released his commercial album Open, his 4th solo project which features tracks all produced by the West Coast emcee.