If you spend any amount of time on this site you know that I love me some Black Keys. Seriously, these guys can do no wrong. So when I heard that they were working on a HIP-HOP album (that's right, it's all caps) and that Mos Def was to be making an appearance, by interested was super-peaked (that's super peaky-yow!). I have to say that I hope that this isn't their last Hip-Hop album because I think that their Bluesy take on the genre is more than welcomed.
Though, imagine for a second the type of high-quality album we would have gotten had they just worked with one MC for 10 tracks. Since we mentioned Mos, let's go with that. Imagine 10 tracks of Mos Def backed with The Black Keys. Take a second to ponder that. Most of the time you'll find that producers make better records with a single MC as opposed to a whole who's who list. I can't fault the music on this one, though. Instrumentally, every track is probably either a 4 or a 5. There are really only 2 low points on the album, both at the hands of Jay-Z wannabe NOE.
On The Vista - I think this hints at the promise of The Black Keys unique brand of Hip-Hop. When the MC'ing is as strong as it is on this one, it's hard to deny that how compelling the combination of rhymes and some Blues licks can be. Peep that ill baseline!
Hard Times Featuring - NOE sounds too much like Jay-Z. I mean, it's bad how much the flow has been stolen. But the subject matter too? And this fact just kills the track for me. I mean, the track is sick with it. Take NOE off this thing, and it's just dope beyond measure. But shame on you Dame Dash! And shame on you NOE! Go get your own style. Stop wasting the beat.
Dollaz & Sense - The Keys manage to take a Rock beat and twist it up just enough to make it sound like something the RZA himself would do. RZA rides the track perfectly...and Pharohe? Dude has always been nice and that fact hasn't changed. In spite of the tired refrain of "If it don't make dollaz it don't make sense", this is an ill track.
Why Can't I Forget Him- A brief Soul meets the Blues slice of brilliance. Interestingly enough, a Black Keys/Nicole Wray album has the most potential to me. This is an excellent track that is unlike anything else on the album. I want more like this.
Stay Off The Fuckin' Flowers - Another excellent collaboration with a Wu-Tang member. This beat is a bit more Soul meets Electronic though, you wouldn't really associate the feel of this track with Wu-Tang. And yet, Raekwon's gravelly voice fits the track perfectly and in fact blends in with the music to become another instrument. He sounds high as a kit though...probably helps the track.
Ain't Nothing Like You - Mos Def brings his singing alter ego. A Jim Jones verse doesn't normally grab my attention. Not so here. Plus you get the added bonus of the Keys themselves actually coloring the track with some vocals.
Hope You're Happy - Q-Tip and a Funk inspired beat that goes heavy blues so that Billy Danze of M.O.P. fame can grime it up. The slow/hype thing really works in favor of this one. Short but sweet.
Telling Me Things - RZA, seemingly inspired by Raekwon sounds absolutely blunted on this track. But he's so high, he's just a bit incoherent.
What You Do To Me - A good Black Keys song that doesn't benefit at all - and that is in fact hurt by - the guest appearances by everyone who isn't Nicole Wray.
Done Did It - Absolutely killed by a wannabe Jay-Z. I want this track without NOE.
Well, there you have it. The biggest surprise for me was that after all of that, I want another Black Keys Soul record before the next foray into Hip-Hop. I applaude Dame for putting this lineup together. I just wish NOE would do him because his tracks? Do. Not. Want. But the rest is dope.
3.700 out of 5
|1. Coochie (feat$. Ludacris & Ol' Dirty Bastard) (04:12)|
|2. On the Vista (feat. Mos Def) (02:40)||4|
|3. Hard Times (feat. NOE) (02:39)||3|
|4. Dollaz and Sense (feat. RZA & Pharoahe Monch) (03:48)||4|
|5. Why Can't I Forget Him (feat. Nicole Wray) (04:18)||5|
|6. Stay Off the Fuckin' Flowers (feat. Raekwon) (02:33)||5|
|7. Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo) (feat. Mos Def & Jim Jones) (03:24)||4|
|8. Hope You're Happy (feat. Billy Danze, Q-Tip & Nikki Wray) (02:12)||4|
|9. Tellin' Me Things (feat. RZA) (02:41)||3|
|10. What You Do to Me (feat. Billy Danze, Jim Jones & Nicole Wray) (05:16)||3|
|11. Done Did It (feat. Nicole Wray & NOE) (03:29)||2|