Music News

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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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts