Blakroc, Blakroc

Blakroc, Blakroc

Let’s get straight to the point: Blakroc is genius. It’s rap-rock as it should be. It fills a void that neither rock or rap can adequately address while simultaneously erasing the damage done by the Fred Dursts and Mike Shinodas of the rap-rock world.

I’ve always felt that hip-hop could use actual instruments. Don’t get me wrong , I enjoy the sounds of J. Cole and Z-Ro, but there’s something about a drum machine and a synthesizer that feels too precise and sterile. Frankly, some beats are straight lazy — I swear Gucci Mane, Jeezy, and Lil Wayne all use the same drum fill, and it’s this kind of musicianship that can get a bit tiresome. That’s what makes Blakroc so brilliant and so simple: grab some good musicians and make them write the music. Find some talented MCs and have them write the lyrics. Simple, right? Musicians make the music, and rappers do the rapping.

The difference between actual musicians and a drum machine or even a sample is huge. The Black Keys bring creativity through a guitar lick here or a vocal loop there, creating depth and style rarely heard in traditional hip-hop beats. Unfortunately, outside of Ludacris, the MC selection is all East Coast. It’s hard to see how it could have been done differently, considering the album finished in eleven days, but there’s something so enticing about having Dirty South MCs dropping lyrics to blues-inspired indie rock.

Despite this lack of diversity, though, each lyricist works hard at crafting their rhymes. Songs about heartbreak or the madness of sexuality fill the album, with each verse accompanied by a beat specially tailored for the individual MC. There are some low points on the album, especially RZA on “Telling Me Things” or Q-Tip’s effort on “Hope You’re Happy.” The great thing about having a great duo of musicians, however, is that they can create music that’ll still grab your attention, even when paired with a subpar lyrical performance.

Blakroc is an album that could have failed in a million different ways but didn’t. Earlier this year, The Black Lips combined their brand of overly happy garage-rock with the GZA to create the mismatched and ill-conceived track “The Drop I Hold.” Blakroc avoids all of that. Not a track on Blakroc feels out of place or awkward, due to the careful craftsmanship and focus of the participating parties. It’s an album that’s a triumph for creativity from the beginning to the end.

(V2 Music -- C/o Cooperative Music, 120 - 124 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3SQ ENGLAND; http://www.v2music.com/; Blakroc -- http://www.blakroc.com/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, January 5th, 2010. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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