By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Pimp to Eat
Ground Control/Nu Gruv Alliance
EVEN FOR A rapper, Kool Keith is remarkably self-aggrandizing. Matthew finds the multiply aliased trickster generating self-produced beats that sound like they were found at a D&D Studios rummage sale, over which he brags about flying around the world, hanging with Giuliani (I guess that's a boast) and having invented every hip-hop move of the last 12 years. On the other hand, the competition's claims are shot down with the all-purpose disdain of "I Don't Believe You." (Keith only believes that you work at 7-Eleven.)
Granted, such absurdity is half the fun of Keith's records, which are basically beat-driven standup comedy. But the routine is wearing thin; Keith's vaunted unpredictability is getting awfully predictable, and his suddenly constant use of the word faggot makes him sound desperate to grab listeners' attention the way his singular flow used to do all by itself. His anger at his relative obscurity is understandable--Matthew's finest moment is "Test Press," a clear-eyed account of how Columbia Records derailed both the recording and promotion of last year's Black Elvis/Lost in Space.
Unfortunately, symbolic gestures like making the best song on his latest album an unlisted bonus track won't help alleviate his cult status any. And not only has Keith done this sort of complaining better before on record, a perusal of Black Elvis's cover booklet proves he's done it better in his liner notes.
Of course, everybody knows a comic needs a persona and a room to work. So it's hardly surprising that Keith sounds much more at home re-reinventing himself as Analog Brother Keith Korg, a hip-hop cyborg more Tron than Ironman. On Pimp to Eat, he's joined by fellow veteran Ice-T and eager disciples Mark Moog, Black Silver, and Pimp Rex for a loose-limbed hour of outer-space dozens over a swirling array of circa-1983 electro sound effects and indie-rap beats. The album is hardly groundbreaking--think a less collegiate, more streetwise Digital Underground.
But it's fun nevertheless, from the crude sex of "More Freaks" (big conceptual stretch, guys) to Bootsy-styled ballads like "Perms Baldheads Afros & Dreads" and "Country Girl" ("Girl," Keith avows, "I'm not going to the strip clubs anymore....I just realized what I have at home"). And from someone who has never been as groundbreaking as he claims, that's as much as you can hope for.