Kool Keith: Matthew

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Kool Keith

Album: Matthew
Label: Funky Ass
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Kool Keith

Album: Matthew
Label: Funky Ass

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Of all the personas at Kool Keith's disposal—Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, Robbie Analog—the one that seems to give him the most trouble is Kool Keith. Maybe you can chalk it up to the Randy Newman Principle: He does his best work when he gets out of his own skin. Given the biological extremes toward which Keith's lyrics tend to gravitate, the distance of a character tends to make them more palatable. Released under his own name, Matthew largely avoids those or any other extremes. It's easily his least interesting album since Sex Style and the weakest of the three solo albums Keith has released in the last year and a half, ironic considering that it's essentially an album-length examination of other MCs' lyrical inferiority and inauthenticity. That's hardly virgin territory for Keith or many other rappers, but Matthew doesn't back up his claims, starting with the unimaginative chorus to "F-U M.F." (In case you couldn't guess, it's "Fuck you... motherfucker," while the song's "bastard Jew" reference raises questions.) Still, as might be expected, even a rote Kool Keith battle-rap album has its moments, and producer "Kutmasta Kurt" Matlin's stripped-down beats, if occasionally too repetitive, give Matthew an eerily spare feel. It's not as effective here as on the Dr. Dooom album First Come, First Served, but the screeching tires of "Extravagant Traveler" (a highlight) and the sonar pings of "Operation Extortion" are nice touches. Even on an off day, Keith remains difficult to ignore: The litany of phony MC offenses in "I Don't Believe You" and the bile of "Lived In The Projects" make it clear that when he says, "Fuck all the bullshit, let's get to the real shit," he means it. Unfortunately, Keith seldom gets there on Matthew, an album that adds up to little more than an angry man clearing his throat.

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