Well, the rumours have been confirmed. The Black Keys’ collaborations with notable hip hop artists including the RZA, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Pharoah Monch, Q-Tip, Ludacris, ODB, Billy Danze of M.O.P., Noe and Nicole Wray are being released in an album on November 27, 2009.
How the album, recorded over 11 days with 11 artists, pans out is going to be very interesting. There’s only a brief snippet of the recordings over at blakroc.com (and below).Listen to the Blakroc track 'Aint Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)' here featuring Mos Def, Jim Jones and The Black Keys here
The album is not such a surprising development considering The Black Keys long held love all things hip hop previously documented here on The Black Keys Fan Lounge. How interesting to see the respect is mutual considering the ‘Keys were on a primarily hip hop line up at The Roots Picnic.
How very cool it is to see The RZA on there, who this website has long hoped would work with the band. He’s a veritable music svengali, alike Dan ready to branch out and take educated risks. For Dan and Pat, who are such big Wu-Tang fans from their high school days, it must have been like their musical lives had turned full circle. He mentions as much in this interview:
AS: A lot of the music world was kind of taken by surprise by the “Blakroc” announcement. How did that collaboration come about?
Dan Auerbach: Well, we got a call from Damon, out of the blue, and he said basically “I want to work with ya’ll. Whatever you want to do, I want to do it. Let me know.” So we booked some studio time in Brooklyn, we were in for like two days, we went in totally blind and got eight songs recorded. You know how me and Pat are — we were work quick. We had lyricists and rappers coming through and it just came together so fast. It was kind of a whirlwind. It was natural and super-creative and unlike most modern hip-hop I think. It was communal. These guys didn’t have time to listen to a beat for months or a week and write their rhymes. They had to come in face to face with us and deliver. It was all spontaneous. It felt very natural, nothing felt contrived or forced, and that was the beauty of the whole thing.
AS: The project could be viewed as a strange direction for a garage rock combo like the Black Keys — why did it make sense for you?
DA: We started as the Black Keys because we loved the sound of RZA’s production. We’ve been saying that from day one, that when we started we wanted our demo to sound like a Wu-Tang record. We wanted that kind of grimy, dirty thing, that’s what we wanted. So it was basically like, as I told Damon, we sort of had been preparing for this “Blakroc” record since we were 16.
My assistants, who are now actually A&Rs, were going to a Black Keys concert for their birthday and I wasn’t invited,” he explained. “Usually on their birthdays we all do it together and the reason why I wasn’t invited was because the concert was sold out . And I had never heard of The Black Keys and I was like y’all still gonna go without me. And they was like ‘Yo it’s The Black Keys.” So I was like, lemme hear this group. So I start listening to them and they actually became my favorite group. They were on heavy rotation so we just reached out and we kicked it with them and I was like, ‘I wonder what would happen if we got Jim Jones and the Keys in the studio’ and Jim came in and all of a sudden Mos came in and then [it] just built from there.
Make sure you sign up to Blakroc.com and check out the full length trailer. With such slick production values on the video, and emotive black and white photography of all the artists, clearly this whole project will surely end up as either a stand alone documentary or deluxe cd edition filler.
Every week (friday) there is going to be a new webisode released onto the site. Dam tasty behind the scenes action.
Webisode 11: feat. Raekwon
Webisode 10: feat. Nikki Wray
Webisode 9: feat. Pharoahe Monch
Webisode 8: feat. Billy Danze
Websisode 7: feat. Q-Tip
Webisode 6: feat. NOE
Websiode 5: feat. Nikki Wray and Jim Jones
Webisode 4: feat. RZA
Webisode 3: feat. Jim Jones
Webisode 2: feat. Mos Def
Webisode 1: feat. Damon Dash and Mos Def
Blakroc short trailer: