Kool Keith Talks 50 Unreleased Tracks, Experimentation

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Kool Keith Talks 50 Unreleased Tracks, Experimentation

Exclusive: The pioneering emcee talks about his Lost Masters collection, new material, and Michael Jackson.

Twenty-plus year Rap veteran Kool Keith [click to read] is among the artists who release the most material. Earlier this week, the longtime Ultramagnetic MC's front-man unveiled his latest collection of Lost Masters. Released on Oglio Entertainment, the 50 song collection (on iTunes for $14.99) features unique work primarily from this decade. Speaking with HipHopDX last week, Keith explained, "Lost Masters is all the tracks that I've done that aren't part of a concept; they're what I do between projects. I put out [a collection] every other year. These are assorted tracks that I have laying around that are unreleased [but] brand-new sounding. It's more of stuff that's not so concentrated on concept. These are free-spirited records."

Keith was asked why, through a career that's seen dozens of releases, what keeps him not only recording so much material, but also releasing it. "A lot of people are programmed. You've got a lot of rappers that might make seven or eight records, according to their budget - or maybe an album, if the record company [is really interested] in the record. Singers are the same as well. They might do a couple [recording sessions], according to the project, but it's not that natural," said the emcee who recently returned from touring in Japan.

An avid fan of music in many genres, Keith then noted, "Often times, an artists' best songs are the ones that they never [intended] to put out - or stuff that they couldn't put out." Lost Masters is a detour from Keith's recent focus on conceptualized recordings, most notably 2008's Dr. Dooom update and May's Tashan Dorsett release. "I volunteer to a lot of projects, but I like non-volunteer projects too. These are records that came from [my] heart, or records that are what I was feeling at the time. All these concept records: Dr. Dooom [click to read], Dr. Octagon [click to read] and so on [they're not all that I've been doing recently]."

The artist who's worked with Princess Superstar, MF DOOM, Prince Paul and many others hinted that he's also hard at work at a new Kool Keith LP: "I'm recording tracks as we speak, even yesterday."

"I've been working on my solo album. I've been doing a lot of tracks, a lot of good tracks. I have different types of sections of music. I have stuff that's for Lost Masters. I have stuff that I put on another side for my straightforward [records]. I got World music that I'm workin' on - styles and backgrounds that I usually don't do. I'm working on things that people wouldn't normally think I'd do, and they wouldn't expect me to do. I've been expanding musically, experimenting. I've got new basslines [that go against] the industry standards of just using a snare and a kick. All I need is a tempo; I might rap on nothing but a hi-hat." As one of the first emcees to rap about outer space, and do stream-of-consciousness deliveries, Keith prepared to go over initial heads, "Like usual, they'll be seven years behind."

Having released an edgy, seemingly vintage Horror-inspired video in February to the Dr. Dooom track "Take That Ride," Keith was also asked about his use of video in the '00s. "Instead of your average, common monkey grillin' into the camera on every verse, [where] every verse is on cue, every point hits... I like to make my videos the way that they made Blaxploitation flicks. [I admire the acting of] Fred Williamson; I might make a video just driving around in the car," said Keith. Video is a medium that the emcee also hopes to use to further his creativity. "In the future, I might do an album that's not so visual. Instead, it's just, 'Wow, I got a lot of records that I did videos for.' They were like movies per se; they weren't like the songs. Not everything I say, and every note is [choreographed] and cheap-wid-it. I don't care about that. I want to do a video that looks real new - looks like, 'He just did a space record and he's just walking around space with a spaceship.'"

Keith then referenced his 2006 project on the alias of Mr. Nogatco. "There was a lot of records that I wasn't in. Nothing matched the music. It was just a setting." He noted, "You see Michael Myers [in Halloween], he's not walking to the beat or lip-synching. He's just walking around [being himself]. I learned this from movies." After releasing videos since the 1980s, the veteran admitted, "I think when you get to a certain level, you can be natural."

Lastly, Kool Keith, who admitted to being a longtime and very sincere fan of Michael Jackson, warned rappers that it was "blasphemy" to say "you're the Michael Jackson of Rap. You're not the Michael Jackson of anything. That man sold out arenas on his own in every city. He didn't need 'The Superfriends,'" said Keith, referring to performers today touring stadiums and arenas on packed, shared bills. "That man was the greatest ever. There will never be another."

Kool Keith's The Lost Masters Collection is available now. For show bookings, contact tobiaseperry@gmail.com.

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