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Kool Keith
Black Elvis/Lost in Space
Ruffhouse/Columbia

In “Living Astro,” Kool Keith declares, “Every morning I wake up looking in the mirror, I am the original Black Elvis … I’m for real with this.” Hip hop’s resident schizophrenic is back, this time as the Black Elvis, the persona for his new CD release, the second in only two months. Like his past roles as the perverted gynecologist Dr. Octagon and the housing-project slumlord Dr. Doom, Keith continues to confound with his bizarre rhymes—think science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick meets jazz unconventionalist Sun Ra—on Black Elvis/Lost in Space, even programming the beats and samples himself. On his first truly solo album, the lyrics overpower the skeletal, noirish, and ridiculously funky tracks, which drag a bit, perhaps because of a lack of DJ scratching.

In the lead songs “Release Date” and “Intro,” Keith acts as his own record-company PR man while poking fun at the sheeplike mentality of phony MCs from BET. The innovative Keith backs it up, though, leaving listeners scratching their heads to choruses like the one from “Lost in Space”: “Metric bypass computes on overload retrace ‘cause we’re lost in space.” Huh? Kool Keith is light years ahead.

Originally published in the Orlando Weekly on August 19, 1999.

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