Kool Keith came on the scene in 1988 as one-fourth of Ultramagnetic MC’s. Their debut LP, Critical Beatdown, set the crew, namely Keith, definitively apart from the hip-hop pack – after all, he had committed the sacrilegious act of dissing Run DMC on wax. By Ultra’s second album, Keith was crawling around basements in straight jackets (see the “Poppa Large” video) and making a name for himself as a) a rumored mental patient, but also b) a fiercely energetic and original MC. Following ‘93’s criminally underrated The Four Horsemen, Keith went solo and, in the 19 years since, has dropped more albums (roughly 35) and assumed more aliases (about 100) than a rational mind can easily comprehend. Whether you know him as Dr. Octagon, Rhythm X, Big Willie Smith, Black Elvis, Mr. Nogatco, or one of the Cenobites – Kool Keith is consistenly in your area. And if this were an intro to the hip-hop hall of fame, dude would be first ballot with a bullet… but sadly it’s not.
Love & Danger fits the mold per Keith’s willingness to unleash a tweaked stream-of-consciousness upon his listeners, but his flow isn’t nearly as succinct as on records past. A lot of cuts come off more like abstract prattling, less like satirical genius–and 13 tracks in, being “off” for off’s sake just gets tiring. Keith even tries his hand at singing on the album closer, “I Never Hurt You;” the results are predictably grisly. In the end, though, all’s not totally lost. “New York” flexes a titanium-hard beat and “Vacation Spot” is vintage Sex Style Keith: “Models in the back showing ultimate butt crack… kitty cat contact, she make her butt clap, watch her butt stack… wear a suit lilac.” Of course it would be negligent to think that the man behind off-center gems like “Dr. Octagon,” “Lost in Space,” “Matthew,” and “Masters of Illusion” wouldn’t come weird with it – it just sucks listening to a legend when he’s got one foot out the door.