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Kool Keith has long been hailed as hip-hop’s greatest eccentric. Over the course of a career stretching back to the mid-’80s, he’s perfected a singular style of abstract yet deadly precise rhyming that often focuses on subjects such as science fiction, hardcore pornography, and a distrust for the music industry. His sprawling discography includes numerous collaborations and aliases, with some of the most acclaimed including Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom. He began his career as the mind and mouth behind the Bronx-based Ultramagnetic MC’s, whose influential debut, Critical Beatdown, was released in 1988. Following the release of the band’s third album in 1993, Keith headed for the outer reaches of the stratosphere with a variety of solo projects. His lyrical thematics remained as free-flowing as ever with the N.Y.C. trio, connecting complex meters with fierce, layers-deep metaphors and veiled criticisms of those who “water down the sound that comes from the ghetto.” Dr. Octagon‘s debut became an instant classic upon its release in 1996, and Keith signed a major-label deal for the release of his 1999 solo album Black Elvis/Lost in Space. Dozens of releases on independent labels followed, from solo efforts like 2001’s Spankmaster and 2009’s Tashan Dorrsett to collaborative ventures such as the Analog Brothers (with Ice-T) and the Diesel Truckers (with KutMasta Kurt). His latter-day output has included 2015’s Time? Astonishing! (with L’Orange) and 2019’s Keith (produced by Psycho Les of the Beatnuts), as well as fashion-themed efforts like 2021’s Keith’s Salon and sequels like 2023’s Black Elvis 2.
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