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Kool Keith interview by Kane Kool Keith Interview

interview 0520 added 19.07.07 words: Kane technical: QED

“Abstract musical genius”. Are three words often bandied about by pseudo editorialists with little justification? Passing Electro/Indie fusions, 16-year-old Grime producers and whoever else the Guardian music supplement is currently giving head to, and invariably those three words get dragged out. But yep, you guessed it, I’m going to do it: Kool Keith is an abstract musical genius.

I’ve spent the last few months traveling and despite warnings of this my inbox was still full to the brim with requests for interviews, reviews, etc. But, when I saw an email from Fabric with the subject title ‘Kool Keith’ I must admit, I was intrigued.

Would I like to interview Kool Keith? A.k.a Dr Dooom, a.k.a Black Elvis, a.k.a Dr fuckin’ Octagon! An overwhelming ‘yes’ was my response.

If the truth were told very few rappers have remained as relevant over a twenty year period as Kool Keith- from founding member of new school pioneers Ultramagnetic MC’s, to the originator of Horrorcore via Dr Octagon and Dr Doom or as the straight up dope MC with the bizarre stream-of-conscious lyrical flow that became the signature sound of Kool Keith. The man known to fewer as Keith Thornton has of course had many more guises and achievements than those noted.

Interviews via email are far from ideal. As any good salesperson will tell you, tone of voice and body language are often more important than the subject matter itself when it comes to gaining rapport. But I was never much of a salesman. So this is doubly more difficult when it comes to communicating via keyboard and the anonymity of cyber space, which may explain why we didn’t get of to the best of starts…

“...Dr Dooom, he's coming back to finish the job on Octagon...”

Despite your successes you are still considered for the most part to be an underground rapper/producer, does that frustrate you at all?

Kool KeithKool Keith: You really cannot label me underground. I have platinum and gold plaques hanging on my walls, I've been on the cover of major magazines, my videos are on MTV, I tour with the biggest rock groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I'm on the prodigy albums that sold millions. I am in Sprite commercials, ipod commercials. My music is in big Hollywood movies and TV shows, and I've sold over a million albums, so I'm very happy with my own success and there will be more to come.

Do you think rap lacks originality at the moment?

Kool Keith: In general rap has been stagnant for the last 20 years.

You've often been associated with, or even arguably responsible for, the Horrorcore and Acid Rap genres. How do you think they're doing now? Are there any artists from those scenes that you follow?

Kool Keith: I invented Horrorcore. I don't listen to those groups who try to sound like me very much, it bores me.

The paranormal and sci-fi influences is a strong theme throughout your work, why do you think it is that some people, or musicians, are better at connecting with their sub-conscious/imagination than others?

Kool Keith: I don’t put limits on my self or my creative flow. I write what I feel. One day I might write about eggs, one day I write about bitches, the next I might write about chopping up bodies in the basement. I'm a creative writer in my music and lyrical genius.

“...You really cannot label me underground...”

You are also known for an interest in conspiracy theories, one of the biggest floating around at the moment is that 9/11 was engineered by the American Government, i.e. 'an inside job', what's your take on that?

Kool KeithKool Keith: It could be true, you never know. I believe aliens exist. I seen one in the projects one time wearing a gold chain and smoking a blunt.

One of my favorite Dr Octagon songs is 'Blue Flowers'. Is it a reference to the killer drug, substance D, from Phillip K Dick’s sci-fi classic 'Scanner Darkly'?

Kool Keith: No it's really a song about a blue flower I found one day by a purple pond.

Do you think that drugs are a help or hindrance to the creative process?

Kool Keith: A lot of musicians take drugs. A lot of them died or killed they selves though. I think it can sometimes help open your mind to new ideas or sounds. I used to smoke dust back in the day, that's some ill shit.

You have collaborated with The Prodigy in the past as well having released material on Mo Wax and have also been booked for a lot of shows in England as of recent...Do you like it over here, follow English music at all?

Kool Keith: I love the UK, my fans there are great. Tim Westwood was the first DJ in Europe to support my stuff back with Ultra, we (Ultramagnetic MC's) used to be greeted at the airport by the fans. You know sorta’ like The Beatles.

If so are there any English artists you would be interested in collaborating with?

Kool Keith: The Gorilla's could give me a call. I'd like bring back the Cookie Crew on one of my new tracks.

“...Tim Westwood was the first DJ in Europe to support my stuff...”

Can you tell us a bit about Tashan Dorrsett?

Kool Keith: That's a project I did with Junkaz in France. It's a fly project, there's some different stuff on that album, I like it.

You appeared in Prince Paul’s 1999 'Hip-Hopera', 'A Prince Amongst Thieves', would you like to do more acting work?

Kool Keith: Yeah I like acting sometimes, I might make a reality TV show with Kurt sometime.

What are your plans for the future?

Kool Keith: I keep recording all the time. I don't need a budget just to go to the studio like a lot of these groups. I pay for my own sessions, and my own video's too. Look out for Dr Dooom, he's coming back to finish the job on Octagon. Also my solo album king service, and ‘The Conference Room’ project with Denis and Tytus Pen. Go look up all my myspace pages. And for the ladies only come email me, I don't reply to dudes.

Kool Keith

I read somewhere that you are a big fan of Paris Hilton, would you consider a collaboration?

Kool Keith: I'd like to do a photo shoot with her. I got some nice outfits for her to try on...I'm a photographer, I got 1000's of pictures in my private collection.

Well, what did you expect from someone who has skit called ‘a turtle in your uterus’! A big thanks to Clare from Fabric for arranging the interview. Kool Keith will be performing live at Fabric nightclub on Friday 20th July.

- Kane

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