The Black Keys – Blakroc

Blakroc (2009)

B-

1. Coochie (feat. Ludacris & Ol’ Dirty Bastard) 2. On The Vista (feat. Mos Def) 3. Hard Times (feat. NOE) 4. Dollaz & Sense (feat. Pharaoe Monch & RZA) 5. Why Can’t I Forget Him (feat. Nicole Wray) 6. Stay Off The Fuckin’ Flowers (feat. Raekwon) 7. Ain’t Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) (feat. Jim Jones & Mos Def) 8. Hope You’re Happy (feat. Billy Danze, Nicole Wray & Q-Tip) 9. Tellin’ Me Things (feat. RZA) 10. What You Do To Me (feat. Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray) 11. Done Did It (feat. Nicole Wray & NOE)

 

A side-project type thing wherein Dan and Pat laid down some hot beats (as my dear estranged friend Machisté might put it) with Danger Mouse in his Brooklyn studio and then invited a myriad of rappers to spit some rhymes over them (man, I’m totally flashing back to 7th grade right now, when to have any chance at being cool was to act ghetto. G-money! You mad stupid! No homo!). The featured rappers range from the famous (Ludacris, Mos Def, RZA, which I recently discovered was pronounced “Rizza,” which I think would be a great name for one of those knockoff 50 cent sodas) to the dead (Ol’ Dirty Bastard) to the I’ve-never-heard-of-them (most of them), while the backing tracks the Keys provide range from soul balladry to substandard rock riffage to, um… hip-hop, I guess.

I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to rate this thing. Everyone who antagonized me in junior high did so because I liked the Beatles and not rap. Intellectually, of course, I’ve moved on, but perhaps stemming from that awkward phase I continue to own virtually no hip-hop. Basically, I have this and some J Dilla beats I downloaded because Alex Chouraqui was listening to him in the car when he gave me a ride once in high school and I dug it. Though I must’ve deleted them by accident or something, because I can’t even find them.

So, with all that considered, yeah, I guess I like this OK, but I don’t really know what to say about it in the context of past rap/rock experiments besides, “uh, it’s better than Linkin Park.” Patrick is clearly having lots of fun playing all these thundering, straight time beats, and Dan is probably having even more fun playing a shit ton of bass after being deprived of the privilege for so long. My favorite tracks here are the most melodically relatable – “Why Can’t I Forget Him” doesn’t feature any rapping but does feature Nicole Wray crooning some Auerbach lyrics pretty nicely. Mos Def does some really interesting stuff during the last minute or so of “On The Vista,” and sings the hook of the record’s clear standout, “Ain’t Nothing Like You.” Is it predictable that I like his stuff the best? Isn’t he supposed to be white people’s favorite rapper? I don’t know, but I like his acting too – he was good in Be Kind, Rewind and made for a suitably entertaining Chuck Berry in Cadillac Records.

Overall, I’m just thankful that (most of) the music Dan and Pat came up with for this sounds like live instrument hip-hop instead of rapping grafted onto Black Keys songs. The only thing that really annoys me about this record is how often the rappers say stuff like, “yo, Black Keys, wut up!” Why do rappers always do that? Do they think I’m too stupid to realize what I’m listening to? They always pull that shit. “Yo, wut up Jay-Z!” “Uh, yo, this is the REMIX!” Yeah, thanks for the update, jackass. Otherwise, unless you’re one of those assholes that always says, “I like everything except rap and country,” then you probably won’t hate this.



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