Today’s music fan believes that if artists truly want us to put down our hard-earned money for their products, they have to stop treating the music as disposable. But perhaps the other side of the argument can be presented instead: why should an artist put forth his or her best work on a project when music sales are rapidly declining each year? Case in point is Kool Keith, a trailblazing artist that has made his mark twice, first with the Ultramagnetic MC’s, paving the way in the 80′s for off the wall 90′s emcees like Redman or Ghostface. Then, he did it again in the 90′s as Dr. Octagon, influencing a second generation of weirdo rappers like M.F. Doom or Andre 3000, with his rap aliases and costumes. Entering his third decade of emceeing however, Keith seems worn out, and with his latest release, Tashan Dorrsett, his craft seems more like a job than an artform.
Tashan Dorrsett is yet another alias of Kool Keith’s, and once again, this reviewer was fooled into listening to the album to see what the new character was all about. Unfortunately, this time around, there is no rhyme or reason to Keith’s new identity, it simply just “is”. No back story, no album-long running sketch about the character, no costume, Kool Keith is simply rapping under a different name, but still agrees the industry is wack and that everything should be defecated upon.
Produced mainly by collaborator Junkaz Lou, the tracks do little to inspire Keith to break the mold or even to rhyme on beat, for that matter. Much of the album sounds as if Keith is freestyling, matching the experimental quality of the production, which also seems to play on in an aimless manner. Junk’s tracks are sticky and sleazy – the type of beats you might expect from post Octagon-era Keith – however absolutely no new ground is broken here, unlike when guys like Dan The Automator and Kut Masta Kurt helped reinvent Keith’s sound at the tale end of the 90′s.
Particularly bad selections on this album include the Latin-flavored “La Cha Cha”, where Keith rhymes and sings over programmed samba drums and off key pianos; as well as the slow sticky funk of “Booty Clap”, complete with R&B hook (yes, really). Notable however is “Magnetic Junkadelic”, which invites Ultramag’s Ced Gee back into the mix, but sadly fails to inspire.
Sure, Keith is still able to manage to get a few chuckles out of the listener, but the difference now is the passion for rhyming is simply gone. When he tore through “Poppa Large”, you could feel the passion in every line. When he blasted the industry on the Big Willie Smith EP, you could relate to his frustrations. When he did songs about sandwiches made of roaches and mice on Dr. Dooom, you wanted to eat them. Here, Keith simply seems like he is phoning it in, leaving little room for quality control, chalking it up as just another day at the office – and the pay sucks. – D.T. Swinga
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