Photographer: Chris Parker .
On Feature Magnetic, hip-hop's all-time greatest eccentric teams up with a slew of rap veterans for a batch of straightforward yet surreal tracks. Keith is pushing 50, and while he's sounded like he's phoning it in on some of his later albums, he generally sounds pretty energized on this one, and many of his rhymes are flat-out hilarious. Even though he only does about half the rapping, he produced most of the selections (billed as Number One Producer), so it sounds remarkably cohesive. The tracks tend to be minimalist, usually just sticking to a booming beat and ominous pianos or synth melodies, putting a spotlight on the lyrics. Keith is still a master at coming up with rapid-fire non sequiturs, offering to "put lingerie on Marie Osmond" a minute into the album on "Stratocaster." His favorite lyrical subjects remain sex, food, comic book characters (not for nothing does MF Doom show up on the song called "Super Hero"), basketball, and his disgust with the rap industry. He's as filthy as ever on tracks like "Girl Grab," on which he's matched by Necro, who is gleefully offensive as always. Keith rants against a music business that doesn't recognize his genius on "Tired," and Ed O.G seems even more enraged than him. "Peer Pressure" is more introspective, with Keith reflecting on his upbringing and the early days of his career while Atmosphere's Slug ends up delivering wackier rhymes ("I play fantasy football with John Lithgow and Pitbull"). The album's smoothest track is "Bonneville," a G-funk jam featuring a confident guest verse from Bay Area legend Mac Mall. Almost all of the guest MCs have an excellent chemistry with Keith, so the album is appropriately titled, and even with a large supporting cast, it still sounds unmistakably like a Kool Keith album. ~ Paul Simpson