Blakroc – Blakroc – CD Review

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I am still full from an amazing array of good eats and excited.  Of course we all know that today is supposed to be the busiest shopping day of the year and there is not one part of me that wishes to engage in that stupid retail disaster.  I have no interest in waking up early and saving $20 on a junk TV or getting DVDs for $2.  I don’t wish to wait outside in the cold for the chance at getting a deal.  I’ll just surf the internet for my shopping needs when the Jesus Day comes a little close.

Black Friday can kiss my ass.

So if I am so bitter at this tragedy of a day what am I so excited about you ask?  That’s easy, Blakroc‘s debut self-titled album was released today.  What?  You have no idea what I am talking about?  Well of course I am going to explain a little more about this album that I have been anticipating for quite some time.

Blakroc is a project featuring Akron, Ohio’s blues/rock heroes The Black Keys plus hip-hop artists including Ludacris, Mos Def, the late-great Ol’ Dirty Bastard and other well known artists.  The combination of the music of Dan Auerbach and  Patrick Carney’s provided beats layered with the rap lyrics is just unbelievable.  To add to the exhilaration, The Black Key’s frontman Auerbach provides some of his own signing on a couple of tracks making for a truly matchless sound. 

So how exactly did The Black Keys get mixed up with hip hop?  Well apparently Damon Dash, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records is a huge fan of the Keys and wanted to do something involving the duo and Jim Jones.  During that initial session Mos Def interrupted and wound up recording as well and Blakroc was formulated (Black Keys + Roc-A-Fella = Blakroc).  In eleven days there were eleven tracks recorded thus creating an album that could be compared to a Gorillaz-like jam sans the electronics and cartoon fantasyland idea.

Finally after hearing about this project for months it the hit shelves today (CD & LP) and I could not resist but grabbing a copy for myself.  After all I am a huge fan of The Black Keys and everything they do as well as have a high appreciation for hip hop so it’s easy to say I was excited.  Once I put that album on though I was in my own little glory just like the first time I heart the Judgment Night soundtrack.  It was something new and something unmarked in it’s own kind.  Blues/rock and rap?  Nice.
The first track “Coochie” floored me not just because it sounded so great but because my number one favorite rap artist Ol’ Dirty Bastard was rapping in his glory (still can’t believe it’s been five years since his passing).  Thanks to ODB being affiliated with Roc-A-Fella Records prior to his death there was some of his work readily available for Damon Dash and he put it to good use.  Featuring the ever easy to listen to Ludacris and ODB slinging out rhymes about one of their loves in life, this song set the bar high for my expectations for the rest of the album.

“On The Vista” followed with the same knockout as the first track thanks to the smooth flow of Mos Def and Auerbach’s amazing guitar playing.  NOE dominated on “Hard Times” with some nice R&B like back-up singing as well as the Keys doing their thing.  “Why Can’t I Forget” was a nice somber R&B turn featuring Nicole Wray.

As soon as Mos Def and Auerbach shared the mic on “Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)” I was just astounded.  It was my favorite track on the album thanks to the high appeal of hearing Auerbach’s distinguished singing followed by sick flows from Mos Def as well as a few lines by Jim Jones.

“Hope Your Happy” was another highlight on the album to me with Nicole Wray providing more soul signing beside the infamous Q-Tip and Billy Danze.  Nicole Wray returns once again with NOE, almost sounding like Jay-Z, on the final track titled “Done Did It”.  I am really glad the album included her as she made some of the songs that much better to listen to.

My only complaint with this album was the lack of Mr. Roc-A-Fella himself – Jay-Z.  It’s not like he’s never done something like this before (anyone remember Linkin Park/Jay-Z).  Based upon what I heard on this album though I would not be shocked in the least bit if another album was already in the works.

You will like this album if you like things done different from the norm but with substance.  It’s a fresh new sound that was brought together with near perfection.  If you are a fan of hip-hop you will dig this album as well, but I can honestly say if you are only about the music The Black Keys push out on average this may not be your cup of tea.  It’s a blues rock experimental album in a sense but more so a hip-hop heavy project that completely did wonders to my ears.

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