Kool Keith, “Feature Magnetic” (Mellow Music Group)
Even as his aliases multiply, Keith Thornton has more than 30 releases under the name Kool Keith alone. His latest, “Feature Magnetic,” is an album featuring collaborations with rappers from all schools of hip-hop.
These guest MCs are a big part of the story. MF Doom is in top form on “Super Hero,” rhyming “Travolta” with “Minolta.” ”Stratocaster” has Godfather Don mutilating a dank piano loop. Keith forms “MC Voltron” with Juice Crew stalwart Craig G, trades world-weary rhymes with Sadat X on “Life” and complains about the scene’s “fugaziness” with Boston legend Ed O.G. on “Tired.”
Still on nearly every track, Keith’s braggadocious flex wins out. As outrageous as ever, his references keep getting weirder. When he’s not deadpanning choruses like “World Wide Lamper,” he’s putting “lingerie on Marie Osmond,” ”needing that antler juice” and sending futile rappers to run errands.
For all the madness, it’s the sincerity of standout “Peer Pressure” that hits hardest. The heady Slug, of rap duo Atmosphere, talks about jealousy being “olive green” and playing Fantasy Football with John Lithgow and Pitbull, as Keith offers sage advice to those about to cave. The backdrop sounds like the score to a hospital drama operation.
The album was mostly produced by Number One Producer, another of Keith’s pseudonyms. He’s also been Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom and Black Elvis, but somehow always winds up being Kool Keith. At one point he raps, “People get cozy and sit inside the paragraph.” And it’s true. For all the flamboyance and sex talk, he’s an MC first, and on “Feature Magnetic” he keeps perfecting that craft.