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"Blakroc" was released in 20009 and came as an album that brought the Ohio-based Blues Rock duo of Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney (better Known as The Black Keys) to collaborate with a range of R&B and Hip Hop musicians. In a bit of a shift away from their previous work, under the influence of Damon Dash, it sees them linking up with the likes of Ludacris, RZA and Mos Def amongst many others to show another side to what they can offer the game after five albums which stayed to their more Garage Rock-based material.
The album gets underway with a pure banger of a track and one that I'm sure no underground Hip Hop fan will have any issues with getting down with as we see that we get the first taste of what to expect from this album with a grungy tune and one that pulls you right into the swing of things through the link up of The Black Keys and the late Ol' Dirty B*****d and Atlanta's Ludacris for a huge opener.
2."On The Vista"
I have to say that I thought that this track was a predictable one as a contemporary Alternative Hip Hop album wouldn't be complete without an appearance from Brooklyn's Mos Def and he shows how well he is able to fit in here as he gets down to the rapping (something that was in short supply on the albums which preceded this one). Its a nice one, but may take some a while to get down to.
NOE, who I know solely for his work with Jim Jones (rapping distinctively with a voice extremely similar to that of Jay-Z) and we see that here he still hasn't changed his ways and comes to bring yet more of this kind of stuff as we get a dark track where he concentrates upon speaking upon the dark things in life as The Black Keys do a great job of creating an ominous atmosphere through their bluesy composition.
4."Dollaz & Sense"
Here we get some rather conventional 'Altrenative Hip Hop (if there is such a thing) as we see that The Black Keys come out with another one that is concentrated around some deep percussion and gives the MCs, this time Wu-Tang Clan's de facto leader: RZA and former Organized Konfusion member Pharoahe Monch for a track that has them sticking to some standard rhymes which revolve around their continuous grind.
5."Why Can' I Forget Him"
Here we see that we get a bit of a change to things as the way that things are slightly adapted this time around to make the Hip Hop aspects of it be put as a secondary drive in the music as it is all headed by Nicole Wray offering her R&B vocals over the thing, and from here the bluesy duo come out with a heavy Hip Hop break to assist and give a dingy feel to the material in a style that was made prominent by RZA's work with the Wu-Tang Clan.
6."Stay Off The F**kin' Flowers"
On this one we see that have yet more Wu-Tang input (in addition to having both ODB and RZA come in elsewhere) as Raekwon The Chef comes to do his thing here on a track that I felt stood as another that you can't really ignore as we have a tune where he shows that he still has extra bars after straight killing it with the sequel to his classic solo debut "Only Built For Cuban Linx" with this short blast of an effort.
7."Ain't Nothing Like You"
This was the first single to the album and the track from which the rest of the album was built as it sees that we have the first studio session being brought to life where Damon Dash introduced The Blacks Keys to Harlem's Jim Jones before Mos Def was seen to interrupt and give his input by bringing some of his soulful vocals (moving away from the rhymes) for a pretty heavy Rap-Rock track.
8."Hope You're Happy"
This is one of the biggest ones on the album and one that I felt did much more for the record because we see that Q-Tip (possessing one of Hip Hop's best voices) comes to thrown down a few lines for this relatively short one, and his squeaky vocals are then juxtaposed by M.O.P.'s Billy Danze to thrown down the darker end of it to make for a track that sounds very complete and shows a broad range (when you consider its length).
9."Tellin' Me Things"
It all moves on here as we see that here we get a track that I personally didn't see much of anything going on as we have a track that tales on an overall composition feel that you could call the average sound that has come through with the rest of the tracks on the album up to this point, but this one has no defining features, and from here we see that RZA comes with some rather unmemorable lines as he gets emotive over the breakup of his most recent relationship.
10."What You Do To Me"
We get a little more Billy Danze and Jim Jones input with this one as we see that we have another track that seems to have a heavy Soul feel coming through, and from this as its primary drive, it is able to take things in a direction that I felt suited The black Keys well, and was efectivly able to show a new side to Jim Jones (although Billy Danze still fits in in spite of don't seeming to change anything about his general approach to the mic(rophone).
11."Done Did It"
The album ends with a track that seemed to do its job at ending it all on a bit of a higher note (in comparison to the way that the rest of the album went) and this is all done through another appearance from Nicole Wray and NOE for a tune that doesn't really bring out any new subjects in its content, but still offers a little something new to close the thing off with in a way that feels satisfying.
Although it wasn't all that consistent, what comes of this album deserves attention. I have to say that I'm not too sure whether this will appeal directly to The Black Keys' fan base, however I'm sure that anyone into alternative/underground Hip Hop will be able to get down to this kind of thing without effort.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Coochie (Featuring Ludacris & Ol' Dirty Bastard)
2 On The Vista (Featuring Mos Def)
3 Hard Times (Featuring NOE)
4 Dollaz & Sense (Featuring Pharoahe Monch & RZA)
5 Why Can't I Forget Him (Featuring Nicole Wray)
6 Stay Off The Fuckin' Flowers (Featuring Raekwon)
7 Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) (Featuring Jim Jones & Mos Def)
8 Hope You're Happy (Featuring Billy Danze, Nicole Wray & Q-Tip)
9 Tellin' Me Things (Featuring RZA)
10 What You Do To Me (Featuring Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray)
11 Done Did It (Featuring Nicole Wray & NOE)