Since the announcement that Dayton's finest would produce a hip hop record, I have been skeptical. Turns out, it's not the Black Keys I should doubt, but the rappers involved.
Nevermind the comedy in photos of Dame Dash passing Dan Auerbach the blunt on the Blakroc website. I initially shrugged off the hype around this project. Hip hop meets rock projects by all accounts are the worst ideas imaginable. Like Tobias Fünke suggesting an “open marriage” might save his, the Black Keys and Dame Dash came to the same agreement, “but, it might work for us.”
The concept is as follows: 11 rappers record 11 songs in 11 days with two blues rockers and a rap mogul. The rap/rock crossover track record is disgusting and even with the talent involved, I was convinced nothing outside of fleeting novelty could come from this project. I am swallowing my preconceptions and it tastes like an exceptionally hoppy IPA – intoxicating, but bitter as a motherfucker.
The first single to drop, “Hoochie Coo,” featured Mos Def singing and Jim Jones rapping like he's been listening to Jeff Buckley. Besides Jim Jones being emo, it felt like a predictable outcome. “Dollaz & Sense” was more anticipated with guest spots from the RZA and Pharoahe Monch, but somehow the Black Keys' production work was the only redeeming aspect of the song. RZA should have gone Bobby Digital style, while Pharoahe Monch dialing it in over a sinister soul backing track is disheartening. Way to squander a chance at reviving your career, Monch.
It's Raekwon's year, we're just living in it. His appearance on “Stay Off The Fucking Flowers” is my favorite leak. Rae blacks out with drug narratives that have Rae barking orders to his street soldiers. It's a goddamned shame this song wasn't on Only Built For Cuban Linx II, instead of “Cold Outside” or a few other overly produced non-Cuban Linx sounding tracks. I never thought I'd say this, but I would listen to a Raekwon album entirely produced by the Black Keys, pending it could capture the same chilling soul to compliment Rae's kingpin persona.
Blakroc is out November 27.