Collaborations are all the rage these days. A lot of groups are shedding this idea of the act as an insular band of brothers, them against the world and all that hokum and instead are recognising the need to keep things fresh and interesting. Many artists, therefore, have reached the consensus that there is no better way to do this than to get out there and play with others. Unfortunately, the words -super’ and -group’ were found to rhyme, thus giving rock hacks like me a quick one-two to categorise any act whose members were assorted and famous in their own right. -Super’ conjures ideas of special powers and extraordinary ability. This maybe the case with technical ability, but it most certainly is not the norm when it comes to writing a tune.
A quick look at the studio session clips on Blakroc’s homepage will prove that such projects only work when egos are left at the door. It never sounded out of the realm of possibility that The Black Keys would hook up with a gang of rap stars and press the record button. It should have though. After all, it’s not as if they spend their days exploring new sounds and directions. It was always a case of any style, as long as it’s bluesy (and doesn’t require a bassist), even when they had Danger Mouse producing 2008’s Attack & Release. Then along came Damon Dash, hip producer, Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder and Black Keys fan. The two parties met, shook hands and whipped out the mobiles.
When it works, fuck me does it work. The marriage of Ol’ Dirty Bastard (yes, from beyond the grave) and Ludacris celebrating the female form over swampy guitars and bass tremors, as on -Coochie’, just sounds fundamentally right. You’ll also find yourself smiling through -Ain’t Nothing Like You’ and -Dollaz & Sense’, which saw RZA devise a few guitar licks of his own. If Jurassic 5 hadn’t broken up, then Blakroc’s softened gangsta-isms still wouldn’t have them losing sleep on the lyrics front. But why does the wheel have to be reinvented all time? How about we keep the trusty old wallpaper, rearrange the furniture and enjoy a fresh look at things? That can be harder than it sounds. If we’re very lucky, we’ll hopefully get a development of this truly super group.