If Snoop Dogg's Malice N Wonderland exemplifies the bling-encrusted dead-end of hip-hop, this eponymous debut from Blakroc illustrates how other rappers are refreshing the genre.
In this case, former Roc-A-Fella director Damon Dash has brought together Dan Auerbach's nu-blues-rock combo The Black Keys, with hip-hop performers from New York's Rawkus and Wu-Tang heritage, to create a rap-rock crossover where the words don't have to battle for space with heavy-metal riffs. Instead, Auerbach's band sets up slow and heavy grinds whose blues roots are still evident in the tough funk edge to the beats. As Pharoahe Monch and RZA state on "Dollaz & Sense", "fuck the white boys, The Black Keys got so much soul". Mos Def sounds most at home in these musical surroundings on "On The Vista" and especially "Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)", which resembles a chain-gang chant lent extra weight; while elsewhere the furtive fuzz-wah snarl of "Why Can't I Forget Him" is deftly ridden by Nicole Wray, and Raekwon feasts on the sinister electric piano groove and atmospheric guitar shards of "Stay Off The F*%$&n' Flowers".
Download this Dollaz & Sense; Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo); Stay Off The F*%$&n' Flowers; Why Can't I Forget Him; What You Do To Me