HipHopGods - Where Classic Hip Hop Lives

Kool Keith - The HipHopGods Interview, Part 2

Kool Keith - The HipHopGods Interview, Part 2

Kool Keith has always been ahead of the times. When everyone was rhyming over jazz beats in the ‘90s, the New York native emerged with Dr. Octagon, which relied on Dan The Automator’s otherworldly creations and DJ Qbert’s pristine scratching. After revealing Dr. Octagon was finished with an official follow-up to the 1996 classic, Dr. Octagonecologyst, the eccentric MC is back to discuss fashion’s impact on hip-hop, longevity in the music business and why he sometimes feels like Wolverine. Check out Part 2 of the Kool Keith interview below. 


HHG (Kyle Eustice): So you believe fashion has a lot to do with star power? 

Kool Keith: Exactly. 


You’ve always stood out and taken image seriously. 


I like anything that’s different — something that has an artistic view. Like basketball players, when they got off the court, they put on nice things. That’s the same for rap. I think rap developed a stigma where people have put a label to it. Like people think when they see a rapper they can get robbed; an old lady has to tighten up on her pocketbook. That’s your typical perception of New York, but that wasn’t rap for me. It’s never been that for me. 


Right. You’ve always cultivated a fly image. 


Some people get into a rapper first by looking at the rapper. Like, ‘Ok I bought the album because of the representation of the person.’ You gotta get into something visually first. 


To me, you’ve always had a unique persona. 


People get into something visually sometimes. I look at the Black Elvis cover sometimes — a lot of people got into the art first. There are two ways to get into music: some people hear the music and see the person or it’s the other way around. They go through what they saw and then they hear it. 


Dan the Automator said you didn’t even advertise the two recent Dr. Octagon shows. Were you surprised they both sold out? 


I knew that would happen. We’d never done a live show before. 


Dan seemed more surprised than you do. Kool Keith fans are loyal though.


I do have a loyal fanbase. 


Do you get nervous before getting on stage? 


I like a lot of people more than less. I feel energy. Less is more critical and stuff like that. It doesn’t bother me to the fullest. After the first song, it’s like you’re ok after that. 


I read you once said you don’t even feel like a human being anymore. What makes you feel not of this earth? 


I think people think you’re not normal. Like you’re Wolverine or someone from X-men, and you got all these powers. 

Like you don’t have to go to the bathroom or to the store [laughs].


People don’t have a clue. They don’t think you’re trying on a pair of sneakers, like you’re not walking into Foot Locker. You’re not going to get a slice of pizza. Like you’re an abnormal person or something.

Does that bother you? 


It’s just like you land in they city and they see you in they city, but they don’t know what it’s like at home. 


Do you ever say, ‘Ok, that’s enough, treat me like a person?’


You don't have too much time to explain that stuff to them. You’re like some immortal person to them — like Xavier or something. They always say when are you coming back? But I’m already here. Let me be here first. It’s always, ‘When you coming back?’ You can do a show in their city five years straight and they say the same thing. I always wonder like, ‘Do you travel yourself?’  You’re backstage and they having a beer, rolling up something, and they ask, ‘When you coming back this way?’ I just got here. Let me finish this trip first. Let me fly home and maybe ask me a year later. I’m in your face in your dressing room [laughs]. 


We have jackass in the White House, blatant police brutality, racism 24-7, murder on Facebook live. Does it seem like surreal reality? 


I heard he killed himself. People killing themselves or going crazy over a woman is ridiculous. Sometimes they need an outlet. Buy a book or something. I think it helps. Those small towns are boring. Makes the average person who don’t have a brain start to think silly things like that. ‘I live in dead city and I’m going to go kill my coworkers at Wal-Mart. It’s just ‘cuz they’re dumb and boring. It’s just like they need to buy a book, sit down and get you some popcorn. It’s a lot about fame, too. They feel they not known so they like, ’Let me go kill somebody. Let cops chase me for three hours’ but then they’re in jail the rest of your life. 


Did you ever think you’d be doing this rap stuff for so long? 


People say you should stop recording at a certain age, but you see Mick Jagger making records and he’s almost 80 years old. You see them selling out Madison Square Garden. They put a stigma to rap on when you should quit. Michael Jackson and BB King recorded forever. Also, whoever invented the old school word — that was a dummy, too. I never paid no mind to that word. I made some different adjustments in my music career. From Ultramagnetic MCs to Black Elvis/Lost In Space to Dr. Dooom 2 to Dr. Octagon — a lot of people couldn’t evolve and adapt like that. I just keep reinventing myself.


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