It’s been more than forty years since Kool Herc starting throwing parties in the South Bronx, and so you could forgive the casual fan for thinking that nearly every permutation of hip-hop has already been explored. But KEITH, the new album from the iconic rapper Kool Keith and the master producer Psycho Les argues just the opposite: that what’s absurdly funny can also be sinister and strange, that the form can still be broken in new and radical ways.
Keith is, of course, one of the pivotal figures in the history of hip-hop, and has been one of the genre’s most singular writers and original voices. The Bronx native was a founding member of Ultramagnetic MCs, whose debut album, 1988’s Critical Beatdown, served as a blueprint for both internationally famous acts like Public Enemy and for the entire future of underground rap. But Keith’s solo work, which began in earnest in the mid-’90s with Dr. Octagonecologyst (released under a pseudonym, naturally) is even stranger, more experimental, more brilliant. He will embed seemingly unrelated ideas and images against one another with a poet’s love for language and a pornographer’s knack for camp. Subsequent records like 1997’s Sex Style, ‘99’s Black Elvis/Lost In Space, and 2000’s Matthew were hailed as instant classics; Keith has spent the last several years crafting expertly written records that are rewardingly bizarre, unlike anything else on the rap landscape –– and KEITH is a crown jewel in that excellent late-period run.
What more could you expect when one of Hip-Hop’s founding fathers, Kool Keith, and the first Latino member of the Native Tongues, Psycho Les of The Beatnuts, join forces. KEITH shoots past space & time, sex style and horrorcore. Forget who’s woke and who’s sleep, because there are no boundaries when all you know is raw. Meanwhile, Pyscho Les lays nasty, timeless production for Keith and crew (Paul Wall, Jeru the Damaja, B-Real) to float over.
Kool Keith releases the second single, “Turn The Levels,” from his forthcoming album and also releases a remix for the project’s first single “Zero Fux” f/ B-Real. For the remix, Nottz lays an entirely new musical template and a sterling verse from Joell Ortiz.