Kool Keith used to love the Times Square of the early '80s; while interviewing him for this week's Voice, he waxed lyrical on the subject. Here's his full and lengthy rememberance of the days when 42nd Street was a seedier place, one lit by marquees advertising kung-fu flicks and boomboxes that looked like spaceships.
via Audible Treats
Kool Keith w/Spanish Broads, New Optimism, Nine 11 Thesaurus
Saturday, August 13
Better than: Getting eaten by a halfshark alligator.
Hip-hop might seem increasingly shiny and sugar-coated, but the genre's bizarre and shadowy recesses haven't been completely abandoned yet. Eminem is back on top of the world despite having to pretend that chip on his shoulder isn't just a rash from his diamond necklace. Brash younger groups like Odd Future and Das Racist are twisting sardonic humor, goofball hijinks, and grimy storytelling into massive youth appeal. In his video for "Brunch", food-obsessed MC Action Bronson serves up a dead girl with an exquisite cheese plate and some cornichons before going all Dexter and dumping her body off a boat.
But they could all still learn a thing or two from Kool Keith, who has countless pseudonyms and infinitely more chutzpah. Keith, coming off his spring release The Legend of Tashan Dorrsett, (a remix-heavy follow-up to 2009's moody Tashan Dorrsett), remains a peculiar delight. He's still obsessed with identity, sex, pornography, riffing on excrement, diabolical futuristic science, and endlessly dropping booties and panties. Playing the sweltering 285 Kent Avenue on Saturday night, he more than reveled in all of his favorite, and least favorite, things.More »
This next joint is getting lit for a tradition in hip-hop long since passed--not Iceberg sweaters, but album skits. There've been so many awful ones that the handful of good ones weren't enough to keep them from going to hell in a backpack. But a few were incredibly vivid--and funny. Of course, it helped if the rapper performing them sounded cool saying pretty much anything, a la Ghostface Killah ("It feel hot at night..."). Or they were performed by Dave Chappelle, who Talib Kweli brought on board to imitate Nelson Mandela.
As you read on, you'll realize that three out of the 10 skits collected here are Wu-Tang related. To anyone tempted to complain about that, I say: Fuck off. I'm from the Wally era.More »
This week, Metalface Records reissues MF Doom's Operation Doomsday (in a lunchbox, for some reason) and that seems like a good excuse to look back on the label that first released the project--Fondle 'Em. While Rawkus, through its feats of star-making and self-mythologizing, now stands as the singular beacon of the '90s NYC indie rap boom, it was Fondle 'Em that quietly and consistently dropped smaller and more exciting projects.
Headed by industry vet and WKCR radio personality Bobbito Garcia, the label started as a gag (Fondle 'Em Records: A division of Tickle 'Em, which is a subsidiary of Squeeze 'Em Ent.) printed on the would-be white label pressings of the Kool Keith side project The Cenubites and quickly became one of NYC's most promising indie imprints for the type of in-the-know rap nerd types who wore Champion hoodies in the summertime and occasionally described beats as "mad blunted, yo." Though Bob's bare-bones, friendship-over-business model--no press promos or formal publicity; no contracts or deals; artwork-free, vinyl-only singles and EPs for the most part--was somewhat noble, it was also self-destructive. The name artists built their brand on Fondle singles or EPs and then either quickly jumped ship to bigger and more business-minded indies (The Arsonists were the first rappers signed to Matador, for whatever that's worth) or fell off the map completely (Juggaknots, Siah & Yeshua) and the label's legacy faded over time. While their indie rap antecedent Def Jux (now deceased as well) paid homage with a proper retrospective when the label officially shut its doors in 2001, today Fondle 'Em seems to exist almost solely in the consciousness of German rap nerds and the dealers who sell them collectible records on eBay. (Even the type of Doom-obsessed teens who post things like "Interests: Classic '90s Raps" in their Tumblr bios seem wholly unaware of the label's existence.)
In an attempt to slightly correct this imbalance in the history of underground hip hop history, we've provided a quick look back at some of the label's essentials, sans the obvious Doom classics:More »
Schizophrenic rap oddballs come no more intriguing than Kool Keith. With a catalogue over 50 different personas and aliases--whether it be the kinky cape-wearing Spankmaster or the very familial John Clayborne Cousin of Jimmy Hicks--the Bronx-born Kool Keith leads the rap world in split-personalities. With his latest identity statement, The Legend Of Tashaan Dorrsett, released today, here are ten great, though far from comprehensive, Kool Keith name japes.
I am afraid to tell you how old deranged/pornographic/quite possibly ingenious Bronx rapper Kool Keith, he of the myriad aliases and wildly erratic and thoroughly entertaining live shows, actually is -- it will only depress you. And him. And yet the announcement of an honest-to-god Kool Keith Birthday Bash is a wonderful thing, in that it will either be absolutely terrible or improbably transcendent. One or the other. Can't say that about many artists these days. An East Village Radio/Brooklyn Bodega co-production, it goes down Thursday night at Southpaw in Brooklyn, starring Keith's old crew the Ultramagnetic MCs, Jesse West, Large Professor, and OG Chino; "Bring flowers," you are advised. The flier is below. This is gonna be ludicrous.
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