Blakroc, "Blakroc"

61 Billboard Rating

Based on the Black Keys' shimmering blues-rock, few would have guessed that the Akron, Ohio, duo would spark a revival of rap rock. Blakroc, the group's rap-leaning side project, is a surprising foray for members Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney. But the pair's adept knowledge of hip-hop aesthetics on its self-titled album is even more shocking. Mixing nasty guitar leads with cavernous beats, the Black Keys have crafted a dark, sprawling opus that's convincing in its commitment to a unique sound. Stellar guest spots certainly don't hurt matters: Jim Jones weaves through a Mos Def hook on "Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)," while Raekwon continues his winning streak with "Stay Off the Fuckin' Flowers." Parts of "Blakroc" lack replay value, but when everything comes together conceptually, as on the R&B jam "Why Can't I Forget Him" (featuring Nicole Wray), the fusion of genres soars. Heavy collaborators aside, the Black Keys have taken an admirable risk on this spotty but highly entertaining album.-Jason Lipshutz

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