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.
Written by: Kimmy Yo