In the swag-centric world of mainstream hip-hop, it often seems as though an artist’s chances of success hinge on his being able to project a cocky, impossibly confident persona. Bombast and braggadocio certainly make for entertaining listening, but where does the line lie between swagger and simple vanity? I don’t have the answer to that question, but I will say that the more down-to-earth rhymes of emcees like Blu can provide a refreshing change of pace from big-timers’ arrogance. On Vanity(DeathOfAStar)ptOne, Blu’s first DJBooth feature as a main artist rather than a guest contributor, the L.A. native cuts through the pretension to serve up a relaxed, lyrically-driven record with a focus on real life. God Lee Barns’ jazzy production (bonus points if you can identify the sample being used here – I couldn’t!) provides an old-school vibe as the emcee delivers his introspective verses. Though no specifics have been given, the record is set for inclusion on a January release; stay tuned to the Booth for details as they arise.