I remember reading about the fairly elusive Blakroc earlier on last year when my interest in The Black Keys reached heights, but it’s only until now do I find myself finally listening to their self-titled 2009 debut. For those of you unawares, which is probably the majority of the world, Blakroc is a collaborative LP between the aforementioned Black Keys and Damon Dash- the co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records. As you might imagine, the project features production courtesy of the blues-rock duo, all charged with a flicker of hip-hop.
Blakroc features an impressive array of guest collaborators with Mos Def, RZA, Ludacris and Raekwon just a few of them. However, despite what many of you may anticipate, (including myself) this isn’t just a Black Keys album with a few MCs chucked in for good measure- this is a well-executed example of two fairly contrasting genres fused together with seamless chemistry. Tracks such as Kanye West’s Gorgeous, or any number of Beastie Boys cuts shows how rap and rock can be executed, and Blakroc is another impressive example to add to that list.
This project is an impressive listen. In particular, Nicole Wray’s Whinehouse-esque vocals cement the two genres together and bring the sounds together in a twisted concoction of musical fusion. Steady riffs from Auerbach, and solid percussion from Carney illustrate a noticeable amount of restrain from breaking out into rock, no more epitomised by the dreamy Why Can’t I Forget Him. Yet on the flipside, after Q-Tip finishes his initial bars on Hope You’re Happy, instrumental accompaniment joins Wray for a shred-fired hook, leaving way for Billy Danze to execute the knockout punch.
On a couple occasions I feel the LP loses its way a bit, and the fusion simply doesn’t click such as with the lazy opener Coochie- a track that could slot within Travis Barker’s mediocre Give The Drummer Some. As well as this, sometimes it feels like quite a crowded piece of music with often too much trying to reach the listener’s ear, but generally speaking, Blakroc’s hits more than make up for the misses.
Verdict – WWWV