Interview: Kool Keith

Posted on 11 October 2016

This post was originally published on this site

The easy story to write on Kool Keith goes something like this: “49-/52-year-old MC shatters hip-hop’s conventions by rapping about space and time travel. What a weirdo!” However, to dismiss Keith as hip-hop’s kooky uncle, as so many have, is to belie both the history of the genre and the talents of the man. No matter. PR agents, critics and fans can dream up all the narratives they need to define this anomalous artist; after about three decades in the music industry, it’s clear only Keith Matthew Thornton can write the Kool Keith story.

When I first spoke with Keith in late 2014/early 2015, our interview didn’t get past the planning stages. He called during my hour-long commute from work, and when I asked if I could call him back after I reached my apartment, he said something like, “OK, that’ll give me time to get some Chinese food… maybe some ice cream.” (Those closest to me have heard this line repeated many times since.)

Despite numerous attempts to reconnect, I didn’t hear back from Keith for well over a year, when he caught me again on the way home from work. This time, though, I knew better than to put the phone down and was able to get a tape recorder set up within a few minutes. I had plenty of questions to ask about the new album, Feature Magnetic, and other recent projects, but as you’ll be able to tell, the direction of this interview was set primarily by Keith himself. Ironically, though, the recording starts with…


…Chinese food?

Yea, you know. Me and Greg Nice and Smooth B used to hang out and eat Chinese food every weekend. We knew each other as kids growing up. That was like a ritual.

Do you think part of what’s preserved your standing in hip-hop so long has been your ability to not really look at it as a business, but as a fun part of everyday life?

Yeah, you could say that. I had a lot of sessions where we ordered something [then] we made a record. It was fun. It wasn’t very corporate. It wasn’t all robotic and stiff. After the studio, I would leave and we’d go somewhere else. It was definitely fun recording songs [for] Feature Magnetic.

Everyone knows Kool Keith, the rapper, but not as many people know Number One Producer necessarily—

That’s me.

I know! You’ve been producing your stuff for a long time, but with the Total Orgasm series and now Feature Magnetic, it feels like you’re stepping even further into that role. How has your production changed since you started out and where do you see it heading?

I’ve always been on an innovative level, making new beats for years. I was Nightcrawler. With the criticism of people saying rappers shouldn’t do beats, I used to note that Pete Rock rapped on his beats and he was a producer. Dr. Dre used to rap on his beats. The producers were rapping on [their own] beats, but it was never the rapper rapping on his beats.

Feature Magnetic by Kool Keith

Do you think that informed the way you made beats, that you came at it as a rapper first?

Yes, I always say a lot of rappers wouldn’t make these beats. The reason why I had to was when I was with Ultramagnetic [MCs], Trevor [TR Love], Moe [Love], and Ced [Gee] would rap on they beats, but I was always 24-hours creative in that group, so I had to beg them to make beats. It was hard, because Moe was there in Brooklyn, Ced always had girls coming over, so then I had to go up to Trevor’s house on my own and make beats. It was a nightmare. Me being a rapper, it was a hard task to get to beats from breaks, but I need beats, so I didn’t get mad at them. I just said I had to learn how to make beats myself. I ended up learning by watching people in the studio, I kept looking at things and started programming. Then when I went to L.A., I found out it was easy to put it into Pro Tools and loop it and put the next drum pad on top and the bass line on top. I ended up making beats then I started rapping on them then I started mixing them down a little bit, and I said, “Oh, wow!” It started coming out natural.

Has your process changed at all in terms of instruments or equipment?

I’ve learned different equipment, worked in different studios and developed different sounds, but it was all similarly distinctive, so it wouldn’t be like using the same drums for every track. I’ve learned how to get other stuff like all new pianos, brand new hi-hats, and how to put my own bass lines together. Pretty much, I came into the sound of myself, and I started making records with dark backgrounds to them. They started to match more of the element of what I was doing, because I couldn’t buy records that sounded like something I wanted to write about.

I started messing with producers, and they would have pretty dark tracks, and then there’d be a day where I feel bad and want to write something aggressive. I could never get the emotional feelings. I had to learn how to make beats that made me capture how I felt for the day. I could hear 25 beats and I didn’t get nothing for that day from another producer. Then you got these cliché guys that are like, “I’ve got something for you, it sounds like Octagon,” or “I’ve got something for you, it sounds like Ultramagnetic.”

Not trying to do anything new.

Yeah, trying to give you another Critical Beatdown record. Another person’s trying to give you [Dan the] Automator-type songs. I got tired of that after a while. I was like, let me go clean up and try to make some brand new other stuff. And then that’s what I started doing.

It’s funny, you find yourself [in a place where you] couldn’t really give your beats away for features, because they get so good. You get greedy, because you make beats that may sound so dope, you’d be like, “Damn, I was making this for somebody else, but I should keep this.” That’s one of the hardest things to get over. That’s the part I haven’t gotten over yet.

On the other hand, you’re coming off a string of several producer collaborations. You’ve got the Time? Astonishing! album with L’Orange and A Couple of Slices with Ray West.

Well, I compromise sometimes, because I’m not hard to work with. I spent years on other people’s production, and I definitely did that part of my life. You have producers that make a rapper, and then you have a rapper that makes the producer. I never was a rapper that the producer made. I made the producer more popular than they ever was just by working with them.

Do you think the way you approach songs then is more as an artist in general, not necessarily as a writer, rapper, or producer, but just looking at the total project?

Some producers got hits that are already made, any rapper could’ve gotten on the song: Joe Shmoe or Bob or General Jack Tom. It’s a hit, regardless. You know what I’m saying? Some producers got tracks that need attention, and anybody can’t just get on them. The beats are a lot of work, but I have fun putting puzzles together. You’ve got to figure out a concept, you’ve got to figure out what can I make this beat become. When I do my beats, I already have a pre-set in my head of what I’m going to rap about. A lot of these beats from other producers, you’ve got to sit down and be like, “OK, let me see what I can say to this. Let me see what colors I’ma use in my paintbrush for this one.”

It’s not an easy job. You’ve got to give the producers credit, but when you really look at it, if you take me off that beat and put another person on it, I don’t think they would really make it what it was. Some of those beats are kind of complex. That’s what put me in a mold where people started separating me, because they thought I was just naturally working on those beats, even those beats that I was challenged by. If it’s whatever, sci-fi or weird, you put the artists in a “weird” bracket, but the beat was weird and you rapped on it, so people automatically lock you into the genre.

I think part of the reason you got classified like that is Dr. Octagon was clearly influential on a whole new wave of producers and rappers. These guys took your style and ran with it, so you, by no fault of your own, were lumped in with a sound that you helped create, even though you didn’t necessarily have any intention of doing so.

Right, I joined in something. I didn’t have no full control of the production or nothing. I laid my vocals and I’d be like, “OK, you made all these cupcakes, I’m going to put my little sprinkles on top of it.” I didn’t go into it and make it weird. Then at the end of the day, the magazines hold you responsible, like “He programmed it, he made it.” I think these were people’s fantasies of beats that they always wanted a rapper to rap on, and they couldn’t find a rapper, but when they do, they feel happy like they finally found somebody that could feel out their weirdness and what they was trying to do.

You’ve been making music for a long enough time now that I imagine you’re sometimes in the position where you’re working with artists who literally grew up on your music.

Yeah, definitely, and then some people are stuck. Some people grew up and adapt to your advancement, but then some people are stuck at a certain example. Some people think you’re supposed to rap on a Critical Beatdown-type track for the rest of your life, and you know, you evolve with the subjects, your voice changes. They might have a time when they were stuck on “Ego Trippin’,” and they like, “Oh, I want to get you to sound like that,” but you’re like, “That’s a long time ago.” Naturally, my whole personality changed and my voice and my life. I grew up. People feel like why don’t you recapture UMCs’ time or something, but that’s impossible. People still try to do it, but they’re just stuck in that time.

One thing I like about you is that you’ll [usher in these eras] and create these monumental characters like Dr. Octagon, but then you’ll go a step further to distance yourself and start your next project. You’ve killed off these characters before. Dr. Dooom killed Dr. Octagon!

Right, that’s the reason why I broke up with Ultra. I was debating with them to be different as I moved on. When we started to regroup and do some new stuff with them, I had problems. I’m really trying to do something brand new, being that they came out distinctive when they first came out. A lot of groups tend to go back to “coming back to save hip-hop,” which is a safe sound, like regular hip-hop, normal drums, snare, boom-bap. You feel scared if you fall off, [so] you gonna come back safe with a record with some scratches at the end and all that on it. I know it’s a lot of artists that came out in the 1980s and 90s that was original and distinctive, but when they came back they ran back to a “save hip-hop” record, a safe beat.

Yeah, that became the formula for the comeback record in rap.

It’s like saying, “Hip-hop, I didn’t really go nowhere far, I’m still close, I’m swimming back to shore real safe.” That’s what a lot of groups tend to do when they came out distinctive. They didn’t want to move further past what they did. They came back with a safe song, so they’ll feel accepted back in hip-hop, but they’re not moving forward to say, “I’m going to make something brand new way past what I did before.” They’re just being safe. I keep going further and further.

In a previous interview, you talked about Godfather Don and Scaramanga, and having what you called “lyrical gym workouts.” Are ciphers still an important part of your process?

Me and Don used to meet after work. Don used to be a sculpture maker. He used to make Marvel Comics sculptures, all kinds of pottery. He worked for a good firm downtown. We used to meet downtown by his house, buy some chicken wings and fried rice and start making beats. Don had a ½-inch reel. We used to go over his house and start putting shit on the reels.

So getting back with him on this new album, was the process similar?

Uh, I called him and he didn’t want to rap at first! He was like, “Ahhh, I don’t want to do it,” and then I had to get in Don’s head. I did a lot of records with Don at his house [years ago]. We tracked down a lot of people. We tracked down Percee P. I remember when Percee P used to be in front of Fat Beats, I told Percee P to go out to L.A. I told him, “Change your life, man. Don’t stay here around Fat Beats.” Percee went out and signed to Stone’s Throw. He stepped up to Peanut Butter Wolf, and I think it was Peanut Butter Wolf who ran away from home to be a big star, so it’s funny it’s such a small world. The person that I helped get big, Peanut Butter, ended up owning the label, Stone’s Throw. A lot of people owe me favors and deals and stuff like that. I got Menelik signed to um, the Murdoch family. We was running Rawkus and that whole underground scene after Octagon.

The whole underground scene criticized that I fell off, the magazines and the publications and the media said I fell off. I was like, “Hold up,” and when I made Octagon with Automator that shut the whole scene up. The critics went and crawled in a hole. I had everything under me like a championship belt, and it started becoming like anybody I pointed to could get signed. It opened up doors and all my respect came back. I admit it: I lost a lot of respect for a while. Rappers looked at me upside down. Producers wouldn’t give me beats. Then after Octagon came out, it just shut the industry down so hard: the critics, the magazines, the big publications everywhere.

But then you killed him!

Yeah, I had to do something different. Everybody who met me in the streets was like, “What’s up, Dr. Octagon? What’s up with Octagon? Yo, Octagon. Yo, that’s Dr. Octagon.” But I couldn’t believe how the industry would turn on you in one second, forgetting all my past accomplishments, forgetting the Ultra legacy and everything. Ultra was the first innovative [rap group]. Public Enemy came out really a little bit after Ultramagnetic. Ultra was out first, but we didn’t have national distribution.

Just your earliest single was out first, right?

Nah, Critical Beatdown was made, and the truth was Trevor used to get everybody’s albums before they came out. Trevor used to really go up to labels and have these meetings and he would grab albums on the way out. He’d have R&B albums before they came out, like I got Vanessa Williams’ album, I got Brian McKnight’s album before it dropped, I got a Stetsasonic album before they dropped. His aunt worked in a record store. I don’t know how he’d get access, but one night he hipped me to Public Enemy’s album.

This was funny: so we in the car, me and Ced — we’ve got our sound, we’ve got Critical Beatdown, we’ve got the James Brown samples, Moe Love with the scratches — we’re riding down the highway in a limo to do a show in Philly, so Trevor pops in the album and goes, “Listen to this.” He’s playing Yo! Bum Rush the Show. We like it, then another track comes on, “Miuzi Weighs a Ton,” and we was like, “Woah, what’s this?” Then Ced was like, “They using the same James Brown stuff, they using the same elements we’re using.” We was like, “Who they signed to?” And Trevor was like, “Oh, they on Def Jam. Def Jam just signed these guys.” I look at the album cover: I see Flavor Flav, he’s got the hat cocked like me on Critical Beatdown, I see Chuck is the heavy voice, so I’m like, “Ced is the heavy voice,” then they got the dudes with the glasses … We was hot in the streets, but we didn’t have national distribution. They got national distribution, so they were pushed out to the public like they were first. They beat us nationwide. We went nationwide slow and crossed overseas international first, so in the history, we were out first, like the ground roots of everything.

What’s your first memory of hip-hop? Your first personal experience with the culture.

I was just going out. I don’t know. I was a dancer before I was making records. I was going up to the T-Connection. They had Cold Crush battle Soul Sonic Force. My friend Kenny Pounder I went to school with was with the Cold Crush Brothers. I was never in a rap group. I was making jokes. I was a snapper. That was it. I didn’t even rap or nothing. When I was young, I was going to J&R Music World and buying funk records. I was paying for Ohio Players records. I used to collect albums with the Mothership on the cover. I bought a lot of albums by George Duke. I wasn’t even buying rap records or nothing. I just bought funk records, like Slave and stuff.

You’ve been touring the world for almost 30 years now. What’s the biggest culture shock you’ve ever experienced going somewhere?

When I traveled to Europe and people were happy to see us come over for the first time, when kids seen us walking around in downtown London and even seeing kids like, “Yo, can I get an autograph?” That was different. The music traveled. We grew international over a period of time. You do in-stores and a lot of people are waiting with the album and posters for you to sign. Like I said, during Ultramagnetic’s time, I didn’t think we had distribution until I went out on the road. You can’t hear what you can’t see. A lot of people thought they was hot outside of New York, and they wasn’t hot outside New York. We was thinking we wasn’t hot outside New York, and we was hot outside New York. That’s the shock that really came with us. We thought we wasn’t known and we was. The record company kind of hid that from us. Like I said, a lot of people beat us to distribution. At the end of the day, the history books have to be adjusted a little bit. It was all distribution.

The first time I saw you perform live was actually on the Warped Tour back in 2001. And then I saw you again when you did the Dr. Dooom 2 album about seven years later. How would you say your live show has evolved over time, and what can people who have never seen your show expect?

Forget the live show! I’ve got an internet show where I can come and throw on something. I mean, if I’m doing big venues, then I’ll go back to the costumes and the wigs and stuff like that. I’ll dress like the Ohio Players. If I’m doing a more intimate setting, I don’t think it’d be right for me to bring any horses on stage and big Dr. Funkenstein motherships in a small place, but in the stadiums you can adjust and wear your capes and collars and robes and all that. It’s like a fish; [if] you put an Oscar in the tank — he adjusts to the tank. I adjust to the tank that I’m in.

The tank that you’re in now is more intimate settings?

No, I mean, if it’s festivals with Ultra, if you look at the “Let Them Bars Go” video, it’s a different kind of thing. And then you look at something else, it’s more intimate. You’ve got to be able to fit the mothership into a certain area if you’re coming into a place. That’s what I’m saying. People want big stuff in intimate places. You can’t bring a rocket ship into a theater. You can’t bring Earth, Wind and Fire inside a theater. It doesn’t fit.

What do you bring instead?

I bring myself, I bring my spirit and I dress up nice. I put on attire and I look bright. I just bring goodness, myself. People are happy to see me. A lot of rappers are dead, so I think I’m happy just coming alive.

Do you see the characters that you create on record as an extension of yourself?

No, I see it like a movie. After Spiderman plays Spiderman, I don’t think he should be Spiderman in front of the camera after he goes home to his wife at night after Hollywood. He shouldn’t be fantasizing as if Spiderman is running around the street. Spiderman is shopping at Walmart, you know?

So you don’t bring Dr. Dooom into the room when you come home?

No, I don’t want [fans] to feel like that. At the end of the night, you go to Walmart, you sit in Dunkin’ Donuts and have a coffee. They thinking like you’re Dr. Octagon at the bank. You’re walking around with Dr. Octagon glasses on at the bank. That’s different. I don’t think Bootsy Collins wakes up and goes to the hospital with his guitar when he goes to get a checkup. I don’t think he brings his bass into the dentist’s office and all that, wearing star glasses in there, sitting down, getting his teeth pulled and he’s going, “Whaaaaa bee-be-dooo-bee-be-do,” you know, telling the dentist, “Whaaaaa.” I don’t see him doing that.

I’m just saying people have days off where they do something normal. It’s just like you’re playing a part. I don’t expect to see Pinhead come out of Stephen King’s mansion. He lives up in Manchester. You don’t expect to see him come down to Starbucks with the pinhead things all in his head, buying coffee.

The people that watch you, they don’t take a day off. I think I have fans who sometimes want to believe I’m eating orange pancakes at home, like, “He keeps the orange pancakes, he paints them with Martin paint.” It’s cool to want to believe that. You’ve got a couple people who are weird, like Michael Jackson wants to walk around the house with the chimpanzee. I’m not that extreme. I’m studio extreme, that’s for sure, but my off-life is I go get a regular pizza. I don’t feel like I have to spray-paint my pizza or something, like, “Oh, I was with Keith, he spray-painted his pizza purple.”

What do you mean by “studio-extreme?”

I have no limit in the studio. I can go into other dimensions. It’s like movies. You see horror movies, The Conjuring, you know people do the special effects. It’s the same thing as music; the effects are how limited I can take my imagination. But after I leave the studio, I just do normal stuff. People want to put you on sides though. They say, “He makes weird rap, so he can’t work with Ed O.G. because he’s on the boom-bap side, he can’t work with Mac Mall because he’s hyphy.”

But I’m not going to collect just one side. I’ve got everything in my CD case, and that’s how my album is, diverse. I worked with Ras Kass, the Beatnuts, MF DOOM, Atmosphere, Dirt Nasty. From traveling on the road when Tower Records was open, I have CDs of everybody: Kurupt, Missy Elliott, Aaron Hall, Jodeci, Gemini, Mint Condition, Toni Braxton, James Brown, The Commodores, Con Funk Shun, Alexander O’Neil. I have no sides. There’s nothing going on over the radar or under the radar that I don’t know about. I got everything from Usher. And I didn’t even get into reggaeton: Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, and so on. It doesn’t stop. I don’t have no boundaries unless you get too pop, like the Spice Girls. When it starts getting into the girl groups, the seven dolls and all that, when everybody got bunny rabbit tails on their ass cheeks on the album cover, I don’t go into all that. But I listen to everything.

Even today?

The boom-bap against the trap, and the trap against the boom-bap: I think it’s overkill in both almost, and programmers are still using the same beats. I liked it when Outkast and Dungeon Family did some different programs, making it somewhat distinctive, but it’s kind of stuck in both lanes with the trap and the boom-bap. You’ve got to wait for Pharrell to come out to do “Happy,” you’ve got to wait for Timbaland to come out to do something different, you’ve got to wait for me to come out to do something different.

You’ve got different people, but the majority of the music is stuck. The same with the singers: all the girls got the same tones and concepts. Everybody’s making, “Life is hard, my mom ran out the house when I was 2 years old, left me by myself.” You’ve got a lot of girls singing, “He broke my heart, he hurt meeeee, he broke me forever, I can’t never get another mannnnnnnnn, I will never find a man like the one I had beforeeeeee.” Everybody’s got one of those records. “He was never there for meeeeee, how long will I support?” Everybody’s got a million of those records. At least Beyonce came out singing about being different and exotic. She took another route, but you’ve got different kinds of singers. You’ve got singers that make you want to go in the corner and take drugs and go shoot a needle. We came a long way.

You’ve released so many singles over the years. What to you makes a great B-side?

A great B-side is a record that you like, that’s dope, that should’ve been on the A-side!

Do you have a favorite from your catalog?

I’ve got a record called “Rolls Royce White” that I worked on with my nephew and my friend, Robert Castellano, which I will promote with a video that people should be looking out for. Then I got I got Feature Magnetic’s alternate beats that I snatched for myself.

My next album probably going to [feature] Eminem, Jay-Z, Master P, I’ma put Jadakiss on a track, I’ma do a song with Future, and I’ma keep on going down the list, because these guys all got to make songs. I’m going to give them some of the beats that I’m using, fluctuate the industry with some new beats. I mess with production out there. You got guys out there like DJ Mustard. I like the kids. I’m not mad at the kids. I think a lot of people from earlier eras are mad at the kids. I think the kids don’t mind making new beats. It’s like basketball or baseball or football. Why would you be mad at the up-and-coming rookies? Why do you wanna be mad at the new running back that’s going to play for the Jets? You been running your ass around for so many years, and you’ve got bad legs. Why you mad at the new kids coming in? That shit, the music industry really has to get over. Why you mad? Because the new kid don’t want to let you sing Frankie Beverly “Before I Let Go”? Let the kids have a shot.

I like it because it’s competitive. They make new beats, I make new beats, and a lot of these kids got new sounds, they innovative. A lot of producers are stuck with the sounds. It’s like a car; you don’t want to get the new Porsche, because you still want to drive the Electra 225 and be like, “Yo, this 225 is the shit, these young kids don’t know about the 225.” You mad because the some kids are coming out with Ferrari beats, and you still want to make Electra 225 beats! You want people to rap over your Chrysler Cordoba beats! Motherfuckers want you to write a rap on their Monte Carlo beats, like “Yo, check out this old Chevrolet shit.” You know, that’s cool, but people are onto the Ferrari stuff.

Using that metaphor, what cars are your beats right now?

My beats are Lamborghini beats, Ferrari beats. They’re not Brougham beats, 1975 Chevelle beats. Beats are parked in a car lot. Your Lamborghini and Ferrari, they’re parked. You’re like let me pull some of these Ferrari beats.

So you take them for a spin every once and while?

Yeah, “World Wide Lamper,” that’s a Ferrari beat. “Panda,” “All the Way Up” — those beats got good bass lines on them.

“Panda” especially.

Yeah, the bass line is crazy! It’s not trying to follow protocol of what’s going on, it’s just something different. When you say a lot of people are stuck, that’s the machines they using. Some people still working on the SP-12 and those drum machines stagnate you from making some of the new future stuff. And another thing I want to say before I get off the phone: that M-80, what do they call it?

The MPC?

No, the beats, MDM, what’s that sound? The sound of Avicii and everybody. What’s that sound?

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

EDM!

Oh, yeah?

OK, let me tell you about EDM. EDM [fans] are people who listen to beats who don’t know what they listening to, and it’s people who get drunk. So you’ve got a lot of people who are EDM programmers. EDM is kind of a fad too, because EDM is like I’ma make a fast beat and throw horns all over the place and make it annoying, so a drunk person can like it. EDM is not for a normal listener. EDM is for people who want to spend all night sniffing cocaine. You know, everybody don’t sniff cocaine. So they shouldn’t really compare it to the kids now making beats. Some kids are going to make real dope, distinctive beats, but they’re classifying them against EDM producers.

EDM producers get no credit in my book, because EDM is like a music for retarded people. It’s fucking retarded. It’s a lot of fast music for people dying out there in those fields, falling out from overdoses. People taking Mollies and pills could be fueled by music like that, so 90 percent of people listening to EDM could be high on drugs and twirling batons around. You get no credit for EDM. It’s like that music was created by a chemical. It’s like a chemical beat. It’s an injection into society. It’s like that other music that came out before EDM, what was it called?

Techno?

Dubstep and all that stuff. Those are retarded experiments that producers get away with. Those are people that can’t make beats. They not funky, they don’t have it in their body, so they try to create a genre of music that becomes like it’s not in their soul no more, so they’ll make something: “rehn, enh, ehh ehh ehn” or “ehh ehh ehh.” Those are people that don’t get soul in their body, so they’re trying to stretch out that stuff like it’s cultural. Dubstep came and went. It was people trying to make fake Jamaican music. All they was doing was taking Yellow Man and them’s music and stealing it and going, “zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho zdho.”

I remember one time people had Jamaicans get on remixes, and you had to jump to that to try to save yourself, and people are telling me, “You’ve got to get on some EDM, that stuff’s hot now,” but the truth was that ain’t hot forever, because the EDM people be killing they self for EDM. People’s daughters are dying in clubs and fields. They ain’t coming back home. [In] R&B and hip-hop, you don’t hear nobody dying unless it’s a case of violence. But I’m talking about self-deaths: people dying without even getting shot. Somebody’s daughter going out there, standing in the field, listening to music, and it has no beat to it, it has nothing to capture, but you bust your heart open and die with some kind of drugs to make you feel like, “Oh, I’m seeing red, purple, yellow and people are starting to float in the sky!”

Before you go, I wanted to ask you about that wig-helmet thing you were wearing on the Black Elvis album and Dr. Dooom’s First Come First Served album. Was that the same wig?

Yeah, that was the same one.

Is there a story behind that?

I had like five of those wigs. I bought them in L.A. I think I’ma do The Return of Black Elvis. Like I said, my thing is all the artists should start working together and get together, because people are getting older and everybody’s got a lot of money and stuff, but people should make some songs together before they pass away and everybody be laying up like Prince in the elevator, you know what I’m saying?

Shhh, hopefully not!

No, I’m saying, you make songs, you collaborate with people, you do what you can. It’s funny a lot of people want to make records with different people, but their egos are in the way.

When I was preparing for this interview, I looked you up on IMDB and saw that you were in a movie in ‘98 called Champions with Ken Shamrock.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, that movie with Danny Trejo! He’s a big actor to this day.

What was that experience like?

Well, my boy Adrian Miller called me up and took me down. I played a big manager of a kickboxer, and I had some lines. I got into it with a priest, a guy that wanted to be a preacher. It played on HBO a lot and it played on Showtime. It was pretty good. That was a great experience. I got to meet Danny Trejo in his prime. He had a lot of movies under his belt. He did a lot of dope Western movies, Mexican movies and everything, and I still see that guy on television and be like, “I worked with that guy!” Everybody was cool on set. This guy named Peter was the director, and it was a cool thing for me. People should check it out. I’ve got to watch it again. It’s in the universe somewhere.

Is there anything you want to add about Feature Magnetic or anything else?

I want all the community of rap to check it out, and out of rap, the R&B artists, the EDM people, every crowd. There’s different sounds, beats, production. You don’t got to make a lot of noise to be a distinctive beatmaker. That’s what I’ve been trying to prove making brand new stuff. It’s always a brand new channel out there. Everybody hit me up on my UltraMan7000 Twitter, my Instagram, and stay above the water, look out for the next thing, and follow all of the Kool Keith catalog. We’ve got more stuff to come.

Keith, let me just add also that I’ve been following your music for 15 years and it’s been a real honor to speak with someone of your stature, who I’ve admired for this long.

I’m glad and happy to have this conversation to get all this stuff out of my body. Being that we are sometimes hidden by a lot of different energies in the world, people tend to edit you and leave the truth out and change it in the Bible. It’s good sometimes to get on and speak the truth with some people and let out things that people probably would never know in they life going totally far and far uneducated. We live in a time when people don’t know who’s who, they got jobs and stuff like that, but some people don’t even know who is who.

The post Interview: Kool Keith appeared first on Festival Gear.

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