We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
A founding member of the Ultramagnetic MCs, Kool Keith has spent his career innovating and reinventing—and taking concepts to their extremes. In response to the explicit sex-and-violence imagery overtaking hiphop, Kool Keith one-upped the pack with the orgiastic “pornocore” of Sex Style and, as Dr. Dooom, the relentless horror of First Come, First Served. Taking a cue from George Clinton, Kool Keith’s end-of-the-millennium Black Elvis persona sent the funk deep into outer space. Driven by lean analog beats and sample-free electronic atmospheres—Kool Keith trademarks—1999’s Black Elvis/Lost In Space album is populated by robots, flying saucers, and remote-control alligators. Like alias-loving dub guru Lee “Scratch” Perry, Black Elvis is prone to paranoia: “I told you how to get your deals/You put my style on your reels/You went uptown claiming my sound/Get back, stay down.” He spares no bile for MCs who he believes have their hands in his till: “Ending careers, that’s my job/Yo, your rap is final/Cancel your in-stores/Your new job is mopping floors.” Lately, however, Kool Keith has been getting his due—and then some. Recent gigs have included collaborations with Prodigy, Beck, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, as well as a tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The artist formerly known as Black Elvis—and Dr. Dooom, Dr. Octagon, and Big Willie Smith—already has a new guiseless Kool Keith record in the can; get a preview when he performs with DJ Dirty Hands and DJ TaekOne at 10 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at the Garage, 1214-B 18th St. NW. $20. (202) 331-7123. (Brent Burton)