Kool Keith, Black Elvis/Lost In Space

by PopMatters Staff


Remember the kids at junior high school dances who would stand around in the corner talking about how much the music sucked? They all ended up going off to art schools clad in sweaters and faded, ripped jeans and covered their dorm room walls with posters glorifying Radiohead, and along the way they never learned how to dance. If you’re reading this and realizing you’re one of those people, you’ll eat up the new Kool Keith.

After the demise of his ultra-influential Ultramagnetic MCs (now most famous for a vocal sample used on the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”), Keith went solo and has now put out a handful of strange hip-hop records, each using a different character but the same beats and rhyming pattern. Violent, twisted sex was the topic of choice for his Dr. Octagon persona as well as the Sex Style album released under his own name, and then came Dr. Dooom, who killed off Dr. Octagon, parodied No Limit Records and threw out some ridiculously funny lyrics about cannibalism.

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Kool Keith

Black Elvis/Lost in Space


Keith’s lyrics are unsurprisingly as sharp as ever, as he barks about rockets, flying saucers and robots on the Lost In Space half and then hails himself and all women on the final nine tracks, Black Elvis. He’s wildly funny, and his constant jabs at inferior MCs are more than backed up by his clever wit. Whether relishing his role as a sexually demanding boss on “The Girls Don’t Like the Job” or acting as the school’s Big Man On Campus (“I Don’t Play”), Keith comes across as a twisted but seriously hilarious genius.

Unfortunately, the problem of a lack of beats that befelled his Dr. Dooom record still exists on Black Elvis/Lost In Space. It’s track after track of boring 808s and an occasional weird sample, and the beats are terribly sparse. Only on rare occasion—most notably the stellar “Livin’ Astro” and the funky sex romp “Supergalactic Lover”—does the sound enter the same league as Keith’s brilliant rhymes.

Few hip-hop records are as stale in the beats department as this. Nevertheless, Keith is unparalleled lyrically, and even the most boring sounds in the world couldn’t ruin a record by a man who is arguably the funniest and wittiest rapper alive.

If you like bouncing around the room to your record collection, Keith’s definitely not for you. As Keith puts it himself, “3,000,000 white people” are buying his records while he’s “flying around the world with (decidedly undanceable) Rage Against the Machine.”

If what you’re looking for is an opportunity to get up and move, you’re not going to get it with this disc. But if you never learned to dance and still want to look like you get hip-hop, Keith’s your man. And because the words are flowing from the best lyricist in the game, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Black Elvis/Lost in Space


Topics: kool keith
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