Kool Keith

During a 1998 interview with Westword, Kool Keith came across as so generally unhinged that he seemed well on his way to becoming a permanent resident of a mental ward. But surprise, surprise: Although Keith hasn't turned into "Black Elvis," as he predicted on a 1999 album, he's still offering his beguiling brand of weirdness to hip-hop heads everywhere. Granted, major labels such as DreamWorks and Columbia have long since given up on trying to turn a profit from his twisted tunes, and that's just as well. After all, his "Official Haters" description of "salt-shaking, behind-your-back-speaking, record-criticizing, cock-blocking, in-the-club-costume-jewelry-wearing, valet-parked-Lexus-renting, undercover, starstruck, no-game-having, fake-Versace-shirt-wearing, motel-hell-living, false-Muslim- being, jungle-fever-having, pork-eating demon people" probably fits quite a few major-label executives. Clearly, Keith's better off going the indie route, as proved by Diesel Truckers, a 2004 disc on the Oglio imprint that's as odd as ever; in "Can I Buy You a Drink?," he's smitten by a woman with "legs like a running back." No, it doesn't make much sense, but that's what's great about it. When it comes to Kool Keith, sanity is definitely overrated.

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