Kool Keith: Black Elvis/Lost in Space

Kool Keith
Black Elvis/Lost in Space

GIVEN THAT HIS indie-rap alter ego, Dr. Dooom, made history in May by releasing First Come, First Served, the first good album ever written about being pissed off at your record company, "Kool" Keith Thorton has earned the right to relax. His 68-minute followup largely tones down the ire, saving it instead for his highly quotable liner notes, which lob have-a-nice-day missives on the order of "I would like to thank all you fake ass wiggers in the music industry acting like you grew up in the projects."

In other words, Black Elvis/Lost in Space doesn't lack for bite. On the "Intro," Keith asks sucker MCs, "Why are you looking hard with a hood on and Timberland boots/Staring at me for one hour when you can just walk up and shake my hand?/Why?" This isn't exactly party music, but by Keith's normally dark standards it bounces off the walls with glee. Perhaps the South Bronx native was worried that his burgeoning white-hipster fan base, along for the ride since 1996's Dr. Octagon, would alienate black listeners unless he cut the phantasmagoric lyrics with funkier beats. In any case, Keith has coaxed late Zapp member Roger Troutman to appear on "Master of the Game," an electro number that approximates several flavors of the month while remaining distinct. And however much Keith trips over his new Original Black Elvis handle, hip hop's most prominent iconoclast sounds more comfortable at the knobs and behind the mic than ever, more confident in his vocal delivery than on anything since the Ultramagnetic MCs' 1988 classic, Critical Beatdown.

Wooing women and spewing pornographic fantasies--which the auteur of 1997's sleazefest Sex Style is finally beginning to realize aren't the same thing--Keith seems more accessible than ever. At the very least, Black Elvis is the most accessible hip-hop CD ever made by a guy who sports a rubber pompadour and a soccer uniform on the album sleeve.

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