Kool Keith: A Kultural Odyssey

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Where does the tongue end and the cheek start?

A founder of Ultramagnetic MCs and – eventually – an indisputably prolific rapper, Kool Keith. Grade A nutter. For some, MF Doom is somewhat indebted to him for the comic book alter egos and that tumbling seamless maniacal flow thing. Lot more maniacal and ruthless with Keith, though. Images that recur over his entire career are bald girls and wigs (usually weaves), green cars (often efficient, practical ones like Saabs), space travel, breakfast cereal, alligators, motorcycle helmets, Campbell’s Soup. All of this generally sprinkled with piss and semen and located in the twisted amusement park that is Kool Keith’s brain.

Sometimes, he’s one of the most compelling and strangest lyricists in music. But not someone you would want to meet on Tinder. Unless you’re into that kind of thing. You’re probably not though.

Either way I thought it would be fun to listen to 120 of his songs and select the best (worst?) of his insane output. It was an odyssey that might have changed me forever. I tumbled through a strange fascination with animals, very occasionally faced a shadow of a glimpse of isolation, fragility and the tragic humanity of an outsider. Mostly though you should watch out for a line about a Parakeet dying.

Here’s a drop from Keith’s demented swimming pool.

1. “I threw a rat with mayonnaise at your headlights.” – Neighbours Next Door

2. “I went inside mcdonalds and got a cuppa tea.” – Mommy

3. “Take a picture with the cheeseburger, let him know how you got your hair done.” – Maxin In The Shade

4. “I knew something was wrong when I gave away my VHS and sold a pair of my socks.” – Drugs

5. “Say “what?” with sperm dripping down your partner’s butt.” – Sex Style

6. “Oh shit, there’s a horse in the hospital.” – General Hospital

7. “Imma do it for you circumcised niggas.” – Technical Difficulties

8. “You have bees flying around your rectum.” – Elective Surgery

9. “Bisexuals on the stage eatin Froot Loops.” – Sex Style

10. “That sloppy Gotti style just a bowl of Wheat Oats.” – Still The Best

11. “Half-shark half-man skin like alligator carrying a dead walrus.” – Halfsharkalligatorman

12. “Type of mother fucker to eat a lotta celery.” – F.U. M.F

13. “You tried to laugh at me, my thousand dollar white shoes.” – Fat Lady

14. “Lima beans drop down and grease your dirty jeans.” – Get Off My Elevator

15. “You out there, I’m still here, who bought your new hair?” – Wanna Be a Star

16. “You got your fans suped up, people drinkin urine a mysterious friendship girl begs for anal sex.” – Keep It Real

17. “I know this girl with her own crib – in isolation.” – Lovely Lady

18. “Groupies standing around with they face frown lookin round like they fuckin Homey the Klown.” – No Chorus

19. “Girls smile when I walk with alligators through the mall.” – Mack Trucks

20. “You say you sellin’ furniture, I don’t believe you.” – I Don’t Believe You

21. “Like a can of Campbell’s soup, you’re soft and moist.” – Chillin’ with Chuck Chillout

22. “You’re how my sperm tastes.” – Keep it Real

23. “I’m not no basketball star, your girl watch me pee.” – Regular Girl

24. “And eat up toy ducks I beat up.” – Critical Beatdown

25. “With gold chains my glasses fog in the rainy weather.” – Still The Best

26. “Hung from a tree with rusty nails in your rectum crack.” – In Your Face

27. “I sent a picture to your wife sporting hooker boots.” – Keep It Real

28. “Pull your panties down, take your wig off, let me see your bald head.” – Keep it Real… Represent

29. “Dissin’ a mouse and smackin’ any gerbil. I bought a Saab, a 1990 turbo.” – Ease Back

30. “I caught you after the show naked out, butt out, cracked out, with two rolls of film tryin to sell pictures of your lover with you, molestin’ your little brother.” – Little Girls

31. “Your head is triangle like a mango.” – Watch Me Now

32. “I smell a grape in the duck preserve.” – Give the Drummer Some

33. “I saw you on the greyhound bus station floor layin down.” – Sweet Unique Pete

34. “With child support, I drag your coffins in the court.” – In Your Face

35. “Flip off your hairpiece while milk spills up on your weave.” – Regular Girl

36. “I’ll disconnect 3 of your fingers you won’t be able to point at shit.” – Mad Man Departure

37. “Makin’ collect calls back to my pops.” – Drugs

38. “Put my motorcycle helmet on and feel the power.” – The Mack Is Back

39. “I use a black marker, i draw you face in a sketch.” – Sly We Fly

40. “Hold up mirrors to hell, where your face went?” – Kick a Dope Verse

41. “Hey what’s the smell down there? look in the basement. 2 eyes missin. next day, where your face went?” – Sly We Fly (narrative first appears in Kick a Dope Verse

42. “With Dolly Parton music playin in my pickup truck.” – Sly We Fly, very next line after #41

43. “My gold sandwich, a swig o’liquor, chewin duck.” – Sly We Fly, very next line after #42

44. “I’m lookin at a TV, lookin for good love.” – Sly We Fly

45. “I take pictures of bullets in your navel, open your face and pour milk in your forehead.” – Apartment 223

46. “He had a house uptown on Green Apple road. a human body buried, monkey, plus a little toe.” – Kick a Dope Verse

47. “I’ll bite your fuckin nose and spit it back in your fuckin’ lap.” – Mad Man Departure

48. “I was in the room sweatin’ thinkin about the rent, playin bingo.” – Drugs

49. “Scrib scrab, scribbly scrab motherfucker with a crayon.” – Ya Not That Large

50. “Paninis.” – Boss to Banger

51. “Earthquake schizophrenic eating Campbell’s soup.” – Apartment 223

52. “I used to hang with Jim Jones before he started the massacre.” – Body Bag

53. “Reindeers cross the freeway.” – I Wanna Play With You

54. “I beyond that average cha-cha and trendy salsa music.” – I’m a Tell U

55. “Takin’ pictures with Michael Jackson and the seven dwarves.” – Jewellery Shine

56. “People standing on doormats next to cats and dead rats.” – Eldoradoes

57. “I’m takin your ass in a rented van to venice beach in a cardboard box beatin yer knees down with a bag of master locks. Police can’t hear you with a dead body tied near you It’s hot, I’m drinkin soda.” – Apartment 223

58. “Spittin’ pumpkin seeds on the livin room floor” – Maxin’ In The Shade

59. “I cancelled the Limp Bizkit tour.” – Big Frank

60. “Grabbing crackers outta the refrigerator.” – Welfare Love

61. “Bones in refrigerators, spring water and lettuce.” – Apartment 223

62. “There are some conflicts in the kitchen: a turkey sandwich on top of the refrigerator.” – Maxin’ in the Shade

63. “Warm tea and chickin broth.” – Girls Would u Fuck Tonight

64. “Warmin’ my bread and sauerkraut while your legs boil.” – Apartment 223

65. “The answerin’ machine filled up with mysterious voices.” – Girl’s In Jail

66. “Now you sleep. while your head burst, I divin in like a champ goin head first.” – Blackula

67. “Dark Vader watchin’ DVD.” – Dark Vader

68. “Who’s that standin’ over there takin pictures for rolling stone magazine with the leech on a polar bear” – Captain Save ‘Em

69. “Condom on my dick, let’s be safe.” – Girl Would U Fuck Tonight

70. “Shit on your shirt, pee on your chest and toss it in a salad.” – Spank-master (Take Off Your Clothes)

71. “Ladies with lingerie cry cos I wear protection.” – Captain Save ‘Em

72. “Bloody towels on sculptures.” – Apartment 223

73. “‘We’re ya neighbours next door down on the next floor’ ‘hey hey, y’all got some toilet paper?’” – Neighbours Next Door (Jacky Jasper actually says the toilet paper line)

74. “Walking in large restaurants ordering a bowl of chicken broth.” – You Live at Home with Your Mom

75. “Even veterans grow up with tight pants and lipstick.” – I Run Rap

76. “You thought I was crazy catchin the greyhound bus down south, collectin lightening bugs and bringing dead mouse in the house, holdin a fortune with a jar of termites.” – Welfare Love

77. “As I walk through the garden of orange tomatoes, all I see – blue flowers.” – Blue Flowers Revisited

78. “I remember the days when King Vitamin was in the supermarket. Kool-Aid was slurpy. Mom used to make it real slurpy.” – Welfare Love

79. “With a stolen g-string sporting a zirconia ring out the Cracker Jack box.” – Bald Headed Girl

80. “Eatin’ coworkers food, I’m rude.” – Body Bag

81. “Stop draggin’ elephants into department stores while people shop.” – Body Bag

82. “We stuck together when one of my parakeets died, you broke down and cried.” – Welfare Love

83. “Here’s some peanut butter little beautiful rat. Nobody understands you. You’re so cute.” – Mr. Ratt

84. “These bitches aint payin for shit they up here eatin then they getting ready to plan to go to somebody else’s house after this. They usin’ us man.” – Bitch Gets No Love

85. “Smearin’ your mailbox with peanut butter and jelly and pickles from the deli.” – Live

86. “Leave a poison sick rat crawlin’ slow around your toilet stool.” – Live

87. “Listenin’ to a tape by Slayer, parked in a parkin lot by burger king eatin a raw pack of chicken wings.” – Neighbours Next Door

88. “I’m passin’ you with a leather coat that looks similar to yours.” – Live

89. “Stab your fuckin’ leather coat.” – Apartment 223

90. “I don’t wanna be kinda different but…are you bald headed? Yeah, I like that you got a lot of that stuff off the horse.” – Bald-Headed Girl

91. “Big haired babes with diapers.” – Bitch Gets No Love

92. “I’m in one of my three luxury apartments eating raisin bran cereal.” – Leave Me Alone

93. “Why you think I should wear a motorcycle helmet…why don’t you wear it?” – Leave Me Alone

94. “Terry, I hate a lot of them same black pants you been wearin dancing. Take 2 days off.” – Girls Don’t Like The Job

95. “As a child growing up collecting marbles and roaches.” – Alpha Omega (The Beginning)

96. “In the shark bar eatin’ salad.” – Livin’ Astro

97. “Pet little turtles in your bedroom.” – Supergalactic Lover

98. “I bet you ten packs of human hair the Yankees aint losin’.” – Bald-headed Girl

99. “Remote control alligators.” – Maxi Curls

100. “Baldhead 2000.” – Bald-headed Girl

101. “Remember, I’m blacker than your used Acura.” – Keith Turbo

102. “A Mexican cat sold me the turtles.” – Vibrato

103. “I’ll give you stuffed animals.” – Fine Girls

104. “I want you to fax yourself to China, Ok? Do this now.” – Girls Don’t Like The Job

105. “You don’t scare me, I’m the man that bought your girl some hair.” – I Don’t Play

106. “Throwin’ faeces at celebrities at the billboard awards.” – Analog Technics

107. “Throwin’ faeces at your windscreen wipers.” – Space Cadillac

108. “Two cows a zebra will jump through your atmosphere.” – Dr. Octagon (by Dr. Octagon)

109. “Get in the water and test the electric wires… Hold this… Here’s some bread.” – I’m Destructive

110. “Watchin’ the cat breakdance on the doormat.” – 2005

111. “Now I’ma have to urinate in your left hand.” – The Plaques

112. “Y’all nothing but packs of candy and sweets.” – Robert Perry

113. “After you leave the carwash I shit on top of your Cherokee Jeep.” – War

114. “Complexion of the atmosphere.” – Conspiracies

115. “Since when you ate carpfish and meat patties?” – 27 Shots

116. “Stabbed himself with a yellow number 2 pencil.” – Object Unknown

117. “Ladies hop in the box like kittens.” – Hey

118. “Park in the space section.” – Aluminium

119. “It’s a turmoil state with VCRs and baby oil.” – Robert Perry

120. “For the love of animals I used to always cut the legs off a roach, see if he’ll stay there on a tissue and give him a piece of toast. That morning I would wake up and he would be gone.” – Welfare Love

Keith. Our man Keith. As this exhaustive, exhausting odyssey concludes, what strange fruits we have accumulated. 20 hours of just that voice. God, that was incredibly unhealthy. Smooth and aggressive New Yorker, that voice. That voice, speaking to this writer in his idle moments, now, and before fading into sleep. That voice.

Man pulling up in a green Rolls Royce with one eye purple, one eye blue; room in the back for 10 girls, but nobody there now, just an empty box of Froot Loops with a few of them fallen out. Used tissue and an old wig in the open glove compartment. The sickly smell of dry come and artificial sweetener. And something stronger, too. Stop at a green traffic light and watch some reindeers cross up ahead. Looking back and forth between the reindeer and an air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror, made to look like one of those uncomfortable super-hardcore pornographic playing cards. We don’t talk, it’s better that we don’t talk.The sky, a billowing black silk scattered with shattered glass and punctured with fast green laserbeams and holograms.

A billboard to the right, framed in gold, an old memory of his. He smiles gently, mirroring the face he sees. Here’s the man who speaks in that strange rap song. Somewhere on the spectrum between that driver and that face in the billboard, actually. This was a dream of Kool Keith.