Blakroc is a very cool idea. Yes. But it being mostly a vanity project with an impressive guest list doesn't help its street cred as groundbreaking, or particularly re-playable. The Black Keys provide some pretty cool blues-y background noise, Auerbach stretches his production cred, and the drums get a specifically bass-y boost with a snare you could use to cut brick. But there is more to a great hip-hop album than incredible drum equalizers and an entourage of great rappers. Unfortunately, this one is going to be fueled by combined star power, and nothing else.
I should have know. "Stay Off The F***in' Flowers" was one of the most interesting tracks on the record and it was one of the first I heard. Raekwon is hot right now (I can say that, right?), and his flow really suits the grooves behind him. I also felt a little giddy hearing Mos Def rock a Foreign Objects like chant, a group that predates him but is closely related to early Roots work. But so many other tracks are just flat, half due to the musical chairs the front men play, half due to the Black Keys unable to switch things up enough to keep us interested. I would have loved to hear some of these guys in conversation (like "What You Do To Me," another pretty acceptable track), but then again, who knows how hard it was to get them in the studio in the first place?
Ask Lil' Wayne, he'll rap on (and smoke) almost anything (Weezer even, though fitting?), and why? Like chumps don't know, its not the rapper that makes the song great. Its the song that makes the rapper great, accentuating the flow, like a conversation. The shuffling front line makes it impossible to establish a rapport with any of these rappers, and continuity, thematics, all the stuff that usually ties rap albums together just don't exist here. So by normal standards, by the middle of Blakroc
we're too bogged down with the blues/R&B jam underneath to hear any of the featured soloists bring anything extraordinary to the table. I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure these guys were going for an hour long hip-hop jam session, and if so, they nailed it. But for those of us who want to hear something a little more interesting than stuff The Roots can do at home hanging out and drinking beer, its time to keep moving. -joe puglisi
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MP3: Blak Roc - "I Hope You're Happy" (BlakRoc)
Blak Roc on Myspace