An original member of New York's new-school pioneers the Ultramagnetic MCs, Keith Thornton is best known as a solo rapper. His signature styles stream-of-consciousness lyrical flow and complex vocals, two skills that earn him a perennial nod from the underground hip-hop community. The average Kool Keith album is peppered with bizarre, disjointed, even delusional or disassociated themes, concepts, and references. Nearly all of his albums incorporate a satirical dislike for more commercialized strains of hip-hop, as well as major record label scams.
After single-handedly redefining "warped" as the mind and mouth behind the Bronx-based Ultramagnetic MC's, "Kool" Keith Thornton -- aka Rhythm X, aka Dr. Octagon, aka Dr. Dooom, aka Mr. Gerbik -- headed for the outer reaches of the stratosphere with a variety of solo projects. A onetime psychiatric patient at Bellevue, Keith's lyrical thematics remained as free-flowing here as they ever were with the N.Y. trio, connecting up complex meters with fierce, layers-deep metaphors and veiled criticisms of those who "water down the sound that comes from the ghetto." His own debut single, "Earth People" by Dr. Octagon, was quietly released in late 1995 on the San Francisco-based Bulk Recordings, and the track spread like wildfire through the hip-hop underground, as did the subsequent self-titled full-length released the following year.
Featuring internationally renowned DJ Q-Bert (of Invisibl Skratch Piklz) on turntables, as well as the Automator and DJ Shadow behind the boards, Dr. Octagon's left-field fusion of sound collage, fierce turntable work, and bizarre, impressionistic rapping found audiences in the most unlikely of places, from hardcore hip-hop heads to jaded rock critics. Although a somewhat sophomoric preoccupation with body parts and scatology tended to dominate the album, Keith's complex weave of associations and shifting references is quite often amazing in its intricacy. The record found its way to the U.K.-based abstract hip-hop imprint Mo'Wax (for whom Shadow also recorded) in mid-1996, and was licensed by the label for European release (Mo'Wax also released a DJ-friendly instrumental version of the album titled, appropriately, The Instrumentalyst [Octagon Beats]).
The widespread popularity of the album eventually landed Keith at DreamWorks in 1997; the label gave Dr. Octagon (retitled Dr. Octagonecologyst) its third release mid-year, adding a number of bonus cuts. In early 1999, however, Keith's alter ego Dr. Dooom unfortunately "killed off" Dr. Octagon on the opening track of First Come, First Served (released on Thornton's own Funky Ass label). Kool Keith signed to Ruffhouse/MCA for his second album under that alias, 1999's Black Elvis/Lost in Space. Records released as Kool Keith followed in 2000 (Matthew) and 2001 (Spankmaster), while the 2002 collaboration Gene appeared as KHM (Kool Keith plus H-Bomb and Marc Live). His next project was a four-rapper group named Thee Undatakerz with Keith taking on a new persona, Reverand Tom. Kool Keith Presents Thee Undatakerz hit the streets in May 2004. Keeping busy, Keith released Diesel Truckers in August of the same year with old friend/producer KutMasta Kurt.
As if 2004 hadn't been filled with enough Kool Keith releases, some truly oddball ones started to appear that year. The Official Space Tape borrowed from previous releases to create the ultimate Keith mixtape, the R&B-leaning Personal Album was released in a limited edition of 500 and with a high price tag, plus the Real Talk label issued Dr. Octagon, Pt. 2, an unauthorized release that had little to do with the original and was quickly pulled from the shelves by court order. The next year was much calmer with the Global Enlightenment, Pt. 1 DVD being released at the beginning of the year, followed by Lost Masters, Vol. 2 in the summer. Nogatco Rd. from 2006 introduced a new character, Mr. Nogatco ("Octagon" backward). The UFO-obsessed album was a collaboration with producer Iz-Real. The two-CD Collabs Tape compilation and The Return of Dr. Octagon followed soon after. In early 2007, Keith was part of a Ultramagnetic MC's reunion that yielded Best Kept Secret.
Tashan Dorrsett, another concept- driven release from Keith, was released in 2009. Following early 2011 is the "Legend Of Tashan Dorrsett" remix album including remixes and exclusives by Hip-Hop legends Marley Marl, Domingo, Ultrmagnetic's TR Love, Agallah Don Bishop to name a few. Early 2012, Keith released the single "Anorexic" (labeled as a Ultramagnetic track) and flooded the internet with the hit records New York and The Game Is Free
Keith's main event for 2012 will be the release of his highly anticipated new solo album Love & Danger produced by Dj Junkaz Lou and starring Def''s Shad brainiac MC Keith Murray, and NYC's groundbreaking combo Megabone .
1. Love & Danger (intro)
2. You Love That
3. Cow-Boy Howdy Feat Mr. Sche aka Big Sche Eastwood (Horsemen Mix)
4. New York
1. Vacation Spot
3. Impressions Feat Keith Murray
4. The Game Is Free Feat. Megabone
1. Who's The Man
2. Pull Your Hat Down*
3. Extra Thoughts Feat The I.M.O
4. Something Special
1. I Never Hurt You
2. Lovin' Me Feat Mr. Sche aka Big Sche Eastwood
3. Goodbye Rap
4. Bonus Track : New York Feat. Agallah Don Bishop & NYM (Cartel Junkadelic Remix)+ Secret Track
In listing the greatest albums in hip-hop history, one title never seems to stray from the upper echelons, no matter how many years pass: Boogie Down Productions' undisputed classic from 1986, Criminal Minded. Released amidst a battle between BDP and MC Shan that would redefine the New York rap landscape as it was then known, the album, which features the songs "South Bronx," "Criminal Minded" and "The Bridge is Over," captures the excitement, urgency and raw power that embodies hip-hop culture as we know it, with KRS-One's aggressive yet intelligent lyricism backed by Scott La Rock's hard-hitting, stripped-down beats. A true classic, Criminal Minded has been recognized by Vibe Magazine, The Source and Rolling Stone as one of the most important albums of all time.Traffic Entertainment Group and B-Boy Records are proud to present Criminal Minded, presented for the first time ever in a double-LP pressing with a new digital transfer from the original analog master tapes.The album is packaged in a gatefold "paste-on style" jacket, featuring extensive liner notes from journalist Brian Coleman and KRS-One, full color printed dust sleeves with vintage B-Boy Records graffiti artwork, full-color 24" x 36" poster and the bonus track "P is Free (Original 12" Version)."
In the wake of the release of A Tribe Called Quest's first album, 1990's stellar People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, critics who had previously ignored hip-hop sat up and took notice of Q-Tip's sophisticated and unorthodox productions, and Phife Dog's party rocking but winningly self-deprecating rhymes. But the critics often overlooked Tribe's far-reaching roots in the hip-hop underground and their larger place in the history of black music in general. The Low End Theory was in many ways a conscious attempt to redress these critical oversights; it also happens to be one of the finest hip-hop albums ever recorded. From the sinuous Art Blakey samples and myth-making rhymes of "Excursions" to the joyous free for all of the epic posse cut "Scenario", The Low End Theory is a stone masterpiece that establishes Tribe's place in hip-hop's history. They draw on everything from the crowd-hyping improvisations of their early park jams, to the complex sciences of Golden Age rhyming styles. Simply put, The Low End Theory is essential for anyone seeking to understand hip-hop.
...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin is the eleventh studio album by American hip hop band The Roots. According to Black Thought, the album is conceptual like the previous one, but unlike Undun, ...And Then You Shoot Your Cousin will feature several characters in his story, not just one. The Roots' lead rapper described the forthcoming album as a satirical look at violence in hip hop and American society overall.
Arguably Jay-Z's finest piece of recorded work, 2001's The Blueprint is officially where the Brooklyn-born rapper became the heavyweight champ of the hip hop game. Produced primarily by Kanye West and Just Blaze and featuring only one guest appearance by Eminem, The Blueprint became Jay-Z's fourth consecutive #1 album on the Billboard 200 charts. From radio anthems "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" to introspective cuts "Never Change" and "Song Cry" to diss tracks like "Takeover," the beats are consistently as extravagant as the rhymes are rich. Ten years after its original release, The Blueprint has only grown in acclaim, rightfully taking its place as a hip hop classic and one of the genre's greatest album's of all-time.