Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “What You Do To Me” by BlakRoc from their 2009 self-released self-titled album.
BlakRoc is a cool collaboration between the band Black Keys and a dream list of notable NYC hip-hop stars. Originally conceived by Roc-A-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, who reached out to the Akron duo purely because he was a fan, the project that started as a session with Dash’s current partner, rapper Jim Jones, grew to include Mos Def, RZA, Ludacris, Q-Tip and others. For many reasons, this particular blend seems fresh and avoids comparisons to a lot other failed or tired rap/rock collaborations. Perhaps it’s the experience gained by Dan Auerbach and Pat Carney on their more experimental work with Danger Mouse (for their ’08 album, Attack and Release). Perhaps it’s the fact that nothing was sampled and all instruments and vocals were live. Perhaps it’s just the level of talent gathered by Dash. Most certainly, though, it’s the fact that songs don’t try to sound particularly like either rock or rap, but rather find the common ground on which they can exist harmoniously.
Our featured song, “What You Do To Me,” is a perfect example of just how bright this collaboration shines. Jim Jones and Billy Danze throw some filthy lyrics on top of a cool 60’s blues organ vibe, while the beautiful voice of Nicole Wray sweetens the whole sultry affair. It sounds almost like rappers took over the Temptations. In other words, fantastic.
You can find out more about the band on their website or listen to additional tracks on their MySpace page. No plans exist for any kind of Blakroc tour, but you can find a handful of talk show appearances, like this performance of “Dollaz & Sense” and “Tellin’ Me Things” with RZA taking vocals, live on Jimmy Fallon: