Kool Keith is a rapper, an innovator, a one-time psychiatric patient and a man who's known to have donned rubber hair.
As a founding member of the Bronx-based trio Ultramagnetic MCs in the mid-'80s, he quickly became the star, eventually striking out on his own. His solo albums earned Keith accolades, particularly the ground-breaking Dr. Octagonecologyst, which was the debut of one of his many personalities: Dr. Octagon, a time-traveling gynecologist.
Showcasing then-up-and-comers DJ QBert and Dan the Automator, the CD was hailed as one of the more important mainstream rap albums of the year, if not one of the weirdest in theme and style.
Keith soon tired of the personality, and another alter ego, Dr. Dooom, "killed off" Doc Oc in 1999. This doctor had a fondness for cannibalism and Flintstones vitamins, but soon was replaced by Black Elvis on the futuristic Lost in Space.
"Right now, I am The Artist Formerly Known as Kool Keith," he says. "I want to be known as the Unknown Artist."
Today's Kool Keith is considerably mellower, but still working hard. He's concentrating on his work as a DJ, in addition to his regular duties as sought-after MC. Though Keith still is knee-deep in rap, he laments the current state of business affairs.
"Projects aren't as much fun as they used to be," he says. "Now it's all contracts and stuff. I want to do, cool, simple stuff, but people hate that. They want to do something hard. They're like, "Wow, I'm going to make Keith work.'"
He's also done with bizarre innovation for now.
"To be different is always a headache. People get a kick out of making me work on something obnoxious, out of this world. I think they get an orgasm from it."
-- Kara Luger
Kool Keith with Distrakt and DJ Prominent
The Black Sheep,
2106 E. Platte Ave.
Friday, Feb. 3, 10 p.m.
Tickets: $12-$15, all ages; call 227-7625 or check ticketweb.com for more.