For a long while now, there has been only one persona within Hip-Hop that could even come remotely close to being somewhat in the same wildly outlandish, yet brilliant vein as the late and very original Ole' Dirty Bastard. His name is Keith Thornton and many a Hip-Hopper has come to know him as Kool Keith. From his oddball antics to his over the top love for all that is freakish and unconventional, Keith is an American original, who's footprints are all over Hip-Hop.
To this day he continues to record his unique brand of quasi-grotesque and kooky music on his own terms and recently sat down with one of the last great Magazine's Wax Poetics to discuss his life, his legend, how his first group The Ultramagnetic MC's formed and what went into the making of Ultra's groundbreaking classic "Critical Beatdown". Join David Ma for what is surely one of the best interviews of the year....
-BIG D O
Talk about your very first involvement with hip-hop.
I used to hang out in the Bronx, so I’d go to parties and see Jazzy Jay and Red Alert and check out Nation of Zulu parties all the time. I never did rap really. I didn’t rap ’cause everyone else was doing it. I remember DMC was out, and I still didn’t want to be a rapper. [laughs] I started off as a b-boy, a dancer. Then eventually I turned to rapping.
How did you and Ced Gee meet? What were those pre-Ultramagnetic days like?
I met Ced Gee in high school; we both went to Clinton. At lunchtime, we had big radios and would walk around with ’em. At the time, rap was just like something we liked but didn’t really participate in. Then one day, our friend [Almighty] Kay Gee told me that he was gonna try out for Cold Crush Brothers. Then he came back and told us he made it! Then [Grandmaster] Caz, and Kay, and Easy A.D. became Cold Crush, and we flipped out! That’s when I decided I could probably do this rap thing too!
So one day, Ced and I went to this place his brother, Pat, chilled at. Pat made beats and they called themselves Mastermind Productions. They had mics and equipment and all that stuff, so a lot of things started up there. KRS [One] even made tracks up there with his early group called the Celebrity Three.
So when I was up there, I saw what they were doing and thought I could make music too. Ced’s mom bought us a SP-1200, and that’s when I began getting into music and rapping. That’s how things started.
How did Ultramag form? What’s the story behind that?
I wanted to do a solo album, but Pat said we should be a duo first before branching off into solo stuff. There wasn’t animosity or anything. A couple days later, we just brought beats we made on the SP to the studio and made a demo. We pressed one single and that was the beginning.
I said we should do one album together, and we should call ourselves Ultramagnetic. It was Moe, Ced, and me. Moe was Ced’s cousin. Trevor [Randolph, aka TR Love] came in way later. We went to all kinds of labels and record companies, independent and majors. Everyone turned us down. Then Eddie [O’Loughlin] signed us to Next Plateau.
Full Interview Here: