BlakRoc: The Black Keys Do Hip-Hop

What happens when a two-piece rock band from Akron, Ohio, steps into a studio with 11 artists from the hip-hop world?

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Left to right: Dan Auerbach, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Patrick Carney, and Damon Dash. Courtesy of Sacks & Co. hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Sacks & Co.
blakroc main

Left to right: Dan Auerbach, Jim Jones, Mos Def, Patrick Carney, and Damon Dash.

Courtesy of Sacks & Co.

The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have wanted to make a hip-hop album since they were teenagers. Though they listened to a lot of blues music growing up, they listened to hip-hop, too. And they realized that each shared a common denominator.

"All the blues music I liked was super simple and stripped down. All the hip-hop I liked was super simple and stripped down," says Auerbach. "We always heard that connection."

The Black Keys' first demo reflected their hip-hop tastes. It featured drum loops and samples, which their first record label later told them to scrap. Years later, following recent praise for their minimalist, bluesy jams, The Black Keys have finally recorded a hip-hop album. Their collaborative ensemble is called BlakRoc.

"The whole record was done in 11 days. All the music, all the lyrics," says Auerbach.

It was easy, too, said Pharoahe Monch, one of 11 collaborators on BlakRoc's self-titled album.

"What makes this special is the guys' sensibility of hip-hop," he says. "The drum loop-like timing and patterns make a groove that is easy to rhyme to and to write over."

Some fans might not be thrilled about The Black Keys' foray into hip-hop. But to all the naysayers, Auerbach says this:

"Hip-hop is the new rock 'n' roll. And anyone who doesn't think that is living in the past," says Auerbach. "It's all just American music when you get right down to it. It all comes from the same place."

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