Shouldn’t work but it does

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Musicreviews -

Rock and rap have never quite been the eas­i­est of bed­fel­lows. Of course, it was dif­fer­ent back when Aero­smith and Run DMC shared a mi­cro­phone for Walk This Way. The suc­cess of that pair­ing en­cour­aged oth­ers to hook up their own MTV-friendly duets.

How­ever, it soon be­came more about fol­low­ing a for­mula than hav­ing fun. For ev­ery Judge­ment

Night sound­track that paired the likes of Sonic Youth, Teenage Fan­club, Slayer and Liv­ing Colour with Ice Cube, Cy­press Hill, De La Soul and Sir Mix a Lot, there were al­ways more ill-ad­vised unions, usu­ally in­volv­ing men in un­suit­able shorts (Limp Bizkit, we’re looking at you). By the time Jay-Z and Linkin Park jumped into bed to­gether, no one was laugh­ing. Or lis­ten­ing.

En­ter hip-hop scen­ester and for­mer Jigga part­ner Da­mon Dash with his own take on the rock-meets-rap racket. He per­suaded Ohio blues-rock­ers and Dan­ger Mouse ac­com­plices The Black Keys to spend a cou­ple of days in a stu­dio pro­duc­ing on-the-fly in­stru­men­tals. He then talked A-list hip-hop­pers into rhyming over tracks they’d never heard be­fore they walked into the stu­dio.

What sounds like a recipe for dis­as­ter turns out to be an un­ex­pected tri­umph. Much of this comes down to the loose, or­ganic vibe pow­er­ing the Blakroc set-up with the two sides re­act­ing to the cir­cum­stances by join­ing forces rather than fac­ing off. Over sleazy, dirty, gi­gan­tic slabs of sound from Dan Auer­bach and Pa­trick Car­ney, you have Mos Def (whose On the Vista is truly sub­lime), Raek­won, Q-Tip, Lu­dacris and even a back-from-the-grave Ol Dirty Bas­tard do­ing some equally fine hol­ler­ing about what­ever comes to mind.

There are some great turns through­out, as well, from Nicole Wray, with What You Do to Me in par­tic­u­lar re­ally shin­ing through.

Blakroc re­ally shouldn’t work, but it does – and how. JIM CAR­ROLL

Down­load tracks: On the Vista, Tellin’ Me Things

Vista vi­sion: Mos Def and Dan Auer­bach

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