Review: Kool Keith – Love & Danger
Published on August 10th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Rumours of Kool Keith’s retirement of the rap game would appear to have been exaggerated. That is to say – as long as Love & Danger curtain-closer “Goodbye Rap” is to be taken at its word (“Go home to the Batcave and take my cape off… All MCs cry with tears / Miss my metaphor / Inspiration gone / Now they got to see artificial tissue on tour… I don’t rap no more / That’s it”) – it’s not exactly a rumour.
If this is indeed to be Kool Keith’s swansong then it’s either a) a disappointingly run-of-the-mill way to bow out on a glittering career, or b) a characteristically confounding parting shot from one of hip-hop’s true mavericks. The way Love & Danger‘s fifteen tracks drag on with little deviation beyond the opening six or seven numbers lands it closer to the former in Rocksucker’s book.
As opposed to “New York City”…
“You Love That” bodes reasonably well with its sun-kissed, Supreme Clientele-era Ghostface Killah feel and reliably barmy lines like “Spanish food, gastric juice / Maritza get off the douche / Rhino baby, no blanket cover your lady / I spot the cyclops roadblock that holds lox / Five fish in your fist / Men settle out for desperate polar bears / React website chit-chat / Girdles come out for Bronx Zoo snatch, with chin fat”, while “Cowboy Howdy” and “Vacation Spot” work well by, respectively, laying an insistent titular refrain over DJ Junkaz Lou’s verging-on-crunk production, and sounding a bit like Antipop Consortium making ironic concessions to bling.
Delivered from the point of view of one high-flying record exec talking to another about how much money they’re making off the back of black rappers, “Supremacy” is both hilarious and biting – Kool Keith’s ‘corporate white guy’ voice coming across like a more nerdishly squawky version of Dave Chappelle’s – but from then on in there’s little to write home about, barring perhaps the Dr. Octagonecologyst-hearkening-back-to “Extra Thoughts”, in which Keith acknowledges that “anything is possible” amidst lines about, amongst other things, cake and the Paris government.
“You’re not a great big star / You’re not” holds “Lovin’ Me”, quite possibly self-addressed, before “Goodbye Rap” draws proceedings to a close by listing facets of modern hip-hop culture Keith finds objectionable, each one followed with a damining “wack”. The doleful lone piano at its end feels like a musical epitaph: it’s a nice touch, but it’s hard not to comment upon the fact that the album’s – and by extension Keith’s career’s – final word is “wack”. This isn’t wack, but neither is it a worthy final chapter in the legend of Kool Keith.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!
Love & Danger is out now on Junkadelic Music. For more information please visit www.koolkeith.co.uk