Here is a hypothetical for you. Take a golden age MC. Someone who might have been a contemporary of LL Cool J, who used to drop bars over breaks like bombs on bunkers. Got the picture?
OK, now go listen to Man is the Bastard, and imagine what it might sound like if that same MC were to lay down some rhymes about cunnilingus over the bass parts of “Skull Crusher.”
Now the twist. This was not a hypothetical. What I described to you is real! Welcome to reality! We’ve been waiting for your tardy ass to get here.
Kool Keith, as alluded to above, is a legendary MC whose career stretches all the way back to 1984(!) when he was discharging electric verses with the Ultra Magnetic MCs. He has produced a prodigious catalog of music over the years, seemingly releasing music as the mood hits him, with increasingly explicate lyrics, depicting risqué rendezvous with an ever-expanding cast of characters, recounted in varying states of mental lucidity.
Almost everyone has a different opinion as to which of his various phases and permutations is the best work. Personally, I’m partial to his Dr. Octagon material, which, I will admit, is owed entirely to finding a used copy of The Return of Dr. Octagon at a thrift store back in college. But I digress …
Somehow, Keith got connected with Thetan, a Nashville power-violence band, who play in a style that is pretty faithful to the original, ’90s permutation of the genre, performed between just two members, Dan Emery and Chad L’Plattenier, on bass and drums respectively (no guitars).
They describe themselves as a drum ‘n’ bass power-violence band, which, they literally are, but also, their adoption of this mantel in a roundabout way excavates a long-buried truth concerning ’90s hardcore … that shit could swing!
Kieth and Thetan have dubbed their collaboration, Space Goretex, an extremely loose concept album about space aliens that arrive on Earth with the clandestine mission of banging everyone they meet. There is also a B plot about some young gangsters trying to make it into space to … eat pizza and chill? Something like that.
The album’s various skits and interludes feature the voice talent of the Dwarves’ Blag Dahlia, Casey Orr of GWAR, Gangsta Boo of Three 6 Mafia, and the infamously lascivious MC Blowfly reprising his character “Uncle” Tom Bowker in various roles (mostly law enforcement who end up getting seduced by the aliens). These cameos ad an extra dash of pepper to what is, possibly, an already over-seasoned dish, but Space Goretex is not an album that understands the concept of less as approaching more.
The beats as composed by Thetan are a dirt-clogged churn of psychedelic hamburger, that swagger and leak with clumpy, grizzled grandeur. It gross and also kind of amazing. Thetan really do justice to the dark, eerie, and carnal quality of Tennessee’s hip hop tradition and it is delightful to hear how comically, and believably, evil they are able to make these tracks sound.
Keith’s flow is pretty elastic here, which is typical for him at this point in his career. Sometimes it’s percussive, keeping seemingly metronomic time with the beat. At other times, he leans back and tosses off rhymes like junk falling off the back of a pick-up truck as it bounces down a dirt road. It’s kind of wild to hear him do both in the same verse too. It’s really not a style I can imagine anyone else replicating with the same level of success.
And did I mention that Keith’s lyrics are dirty? Because they are FILTHY! I can feel the windows of the room that I am writing this in steaming up as I type. Like, there are definitely parts of this album that sound like he’s just describing a porn that he’s watching, and it’s hilarious! If you have a low threshold for that type of thing, this one might not be for you, but if it sounds like your bag, you can stream the entirety of Space Goretex below: