Kool Keith has never been synonymous with quality control or consistency, so fans are right to be skeptical of a project whose name essentially promises a completists-only collection of obscurities, glorified demos, and random shit left lying around the studio. The third disc of the Lost Masters Collection (which is packaged with two previously released odds-and-ends discs) benefits from low expectations; it’s profoundly half-assed, but intermittently brilliant all the same.
Like his kindred spirit Doom, Keith has become predictable in his unpredictability. Fans know to expect plenty of bizarre non sequiturs, nonstop scatology, and bizarre, bitter riffs on mainstream-rap motherfuckery from an agitated outsider taking in the whole sorry spectacle from the sidelines. On that level, Lost Masters doesn’t disappoint, though Keith is still capable of one-liners, juxtapositions, and pop-culture references so incongruous and obscure that they retain the power to shock and delight.
Keith’s lyrics are frequently inspired, but the production on Lost Masters would have to improve considerably just to qualify as half-assed: It’s often little more than Casio squeaks and arbitrary percussion. Sometimes Keith literally seems to be rapping over an alarm clock’s insistent call. This frustrating, agreeably perverse collection of lost masters is just a complete remix away from being pretty damn terrific.