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Concert Review:: An XXX Valentine's Day with Kool Keith at Ace of Cups

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Spending 90 minutes with the enigmatic Kool Keith, was historically predictable to those familiar with his eccentricities.  Like searching for gems in a sandbox, everyone who came out in Columbus, Ohio, on Valentine’s Day nonetheless, to see one of the most unique names in rap history was given at least one treat in a favorite dirty lyric, a familiar beat, a bizarre song or a shocking comment, and Kool Keith did not disappoint.

For those who have seen Kool Keith before, the first thrill was achieved simply by his bordering on punctual appearance.  One could think that perhaps his newest persona is one slightly suggestive of maturity with age but of course, Kool Keith could never stray that far from the bizarre.  Although starting with one of the founding groups in rap, the Ultramagnetic MCs, Keith’s solo work has made him infamous with a wildly charismatic and impressive list of albums and tracks that have firmly established this Bronx native as bona fide talented and impossible to predict.

Cloaked in a familiar sparkly headscarf wrapped over a snapback and mirrored aviator sunglasses, Keith and his Hype man Cito started relatively on time and subtly on point. The set list gave everyone in attendance at least a little glimpse of whatever identity they came to see, be it either of the demented Doctor’s, Dooom or Octagon, Tashan Dorrsett, Black Elvis or whomever.  Starting off with “Blue Flowers” off his first solo album, “Dr. Octagonecologyst”, then some sharp freestyle, he quickly went familiar and rode the wave as the DJ rolled through medleys of each of his alter egos.  He gave the Earth People in attendance an experience that proved frustrating and delightful all at the same time.  Although there were a few great songs done in their entirety, Keith’s set consisted mainly of little tidbits of most of his hits and it was difficult to tell when he was actually rapping or when he was just lip synching.  There were also long periods of conversation with the audience, where Keith was openly mocking the Midwestern, I’m so drunk I think I’m just standing here and maintaining nicely but really I’m wildly swaying in place, mostly male audience with references to body parts, condom brands, bestiality and deviant sex.  The crowd was attentive at first but as the questions and audience play became longer and more randomly personal, the lead up to the next song was getting lost.  By the time the show was done, I think this small club was half full.

Kool Keith spits rhymes that are abstract, witty, ridiculous, far-out, juvenile and funny and although he never sold out stadiums, he has paved the way for many far from center rap acts including Wu-Tang and Odd Future.  He has always been his own man, paving his own way and true to form, he is still trying to shock you, tease you and confuse you.  And, if you can appreciate his awesome crazy, he will still please you.

Personal observations:

  • Ace of Cups is a small bar that occupies a space that used to be a bank and IMHO, it’s a great intimate place to see a show.  In the year that it has been in existence, it seems to have really found its own and the variance of events and acts that are booked there are surprising and fresh.  One of those last adjectives cannot be used for the bathrooms or the smell that hits you when you walk in though.  You can tell many a good time has happened there already. 
  • Kool Keith was informed prior to the show that a good friend and colleague had passed away.  Tim Dog was a fellow Bronx native who worked with the Ultramagnetic MCs and put out one rap duo album, “Ultra” with Kool Keith.  The show ended with a tribute to him.  Rest in peace Tim Dog. Respect – moment of silence.
  • Local artist Copywrite of the MHz crew opened the show with some interesting eye candy that set the stage for the evening, complete with a girl twirling a lighted hula hoop and a little person undulating on stage with little more than electrical tape covering her nipples.  Judging by the crowd reaction, quite a few people were there to see him and I overheard a comment that was along the lines of this ain’t no L.A., land of the plastic pretty people.  You just never know what a night in Columbus Ohio will produce.
  • I didn’t get Kool Keith’s tweet before the show and shamefully, I wore my panties.  Luckily for him though, he got plenty of female attention from the girl who was front and center of the small, low stage as she spent a lot of the show trying to personally connect with Keith by petting his torso and legs. Perhaps she got a proper Valentine’s Day wish in a Green Room Orgy. P’raps. A girl can dream you know…

Written by: Kimmy Yo


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