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Born in and based out of Mobile, Alabama, Yung Bleu (Jeremy Biddle) started rapping at the age of 11 and got into the game after he watched his brother interact with local hip-hop circles. He entered the public arena during his late teens with self-released mixtapes like 2013's Hello World and then became involved with Young Boss Entertainment. Over the ensuing years, Yung Bleu built his reputation on Investments (sometimes abbreviated as INV), a series of mixtapes with each successive numbered volume widening his scope. Around the same time, Bleu developed a working relationship with Boosie Badazz, collaborating with him on several tracks and landing a Columbia-supported deal with Boosie's Badazz Music Syndicate.
Bleu broke out in a big way with the 2017 single "Miss It" and continued to raise his profile with more installments of the Investments series, as well as streaming hits like 2018's "Unappreciated" and the Kevin Gates-assisted remix of "Ice on My Baby." He also established Bleu Vandross, an R&B-leaning mixtape series titled after his secondary alias. Bleu issued his final Columbia-distributed recordings, Bleu Vandross 2 and Investments 6, in 2019. He wasted no time launching the independent Vandross Music Group in 2020 with Bleu Vandross 3 and Love Scars: The 5 Stages of Emotions. An alternate version of Love Scars' highlight "You're Mines Still" added a verse from Drake and was placed on a subsequent expanded edition of the EP. That October, the track entered the Hot 100 and simultaneously pushed its parent release into the Billboard 200.
Teaming up with Coi Leray, Bleu continued in early 2021 with "Thieves in Atlanta," an amorous single that heralded his transition from mixtape releases to a proper studio album. The ambitious Moon Boy, released that July, was loaded with high-profile collaborators such as Big Sean, Gunna, and John Legend, as well as H.E.R. (whose then-new Back of My Mind, featuring Bleu on the duet "Paradise," would be Grammy-nominated for Album of the Year). Moon Boy reached number six on the rap chart and number 12 on the Billboard 200, and yielded a gold single with "Baddest." After he was featured on Gunna's DS4EVER and Chris Brown's Breezy, Bleu previewed his second full-length project in September 2022 with the breakup song "Love in the Way," a Nicki Minaj duet that became Bleu's fourth Hot 100 single as a headliner. The deeply reflective Tantra, boasting additional guests such as Ne-Yo, French Montana, and Lil Wayne, landed that November and entered the Billboard 200 at number 99. Only five months later, Bleu was back with the sequel to Love Scars: The 5 Stages of Emotion, Love Scars II. The ballad-heavy set reached number 38 with Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, and Tink in featured roles, though it was the unassisted forlorn ballad "Games Women Play" that received the most attention upon release. ~ Andy Kellman & Fred Thomas