Diesel Truckers

Artist: Kool Keith f/ Kutmasta KurtTitle: Diesel TruckersRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Paine<font face="verdana" size="2"

Kool Keith is either one of Hip-Hop’s most creative artists, or he’s just smoked too much dust. In the last decade, we’ve watched Keith transform from the one-time star of Ultramagnetic MC’s to a pimp, an Elvis, a S&M freak and even Robbie Analog. Some things have worked, like the Dr. Octagon (Dr. Octagonecologyst project that featured production from Dan the Automator. Other projects, like his Dr. Dooom alias’ First Come, Forst Served seemed out of synch with what listeners sought. Wherever your regards for Keith may lie, Diesel Truckers is the unveiling of the Spankmaster’s newest self, alongside the electro-emphasized, producer, Kutmasta Kurt. Madonna might sell more records more than Keith, but I think he’s got her beat on the reinvention tip.

Lyrically, this album is the same old Keith. Although this might be the most alarming album cover and title in Keith’s catalog to date, this album strays from its title. Rather, Keith returns to do two things that he’s always done. First, Keith makes a few of his signature fetish driven sex stories. Although, “I Love You Nancy” also features some less sexual, more romantic Keith sensitivity. But more than the raunch, Kool Keith has returned to really attack the status quo of Hip-Hop. “Takin’ It Back” is an odd, but very important track that addresses Keith’s youth, and names the names that never get mentioned enough, i.e. “Cold Crush, Flash, etc.” Finally, Keith confronts elements of his past. “The Diesel Truckers Theme” also plays somewhat comically against Keith’s group partner, Ice-T’s classic, “Colors.” To complete the transformation, “Legendary” is a modernized ode to a style and delivery that put Keith on, ’88 style remixed. The most alarming element of this album may be Keith’s discreet pot shots at many of Hip-Hop’s biggest stars. One of the strangest targets is Andre 3000, which it seems that Keith is stepping to on “Mental Side Effects.” In any case, it’s been a while since Kool Keith verses have been examined so heavily, and it’s good that Keith has opened his appeal a bit.

Kutmasta Kurt’s work on Motion Man’s Clearing the Field was remarkable. Equally, his remix for Linkin Park may’ve sent a few wayward kids into some real Hip-Hop. Still, Kurt has yet to do the Kool Keith album of the solo years. The last three efforts came and went with equal, uneventful praise. This may be Kurt and Keith’s best chemistry as of yet. Kurt’s recognition of Keith’s initial era has finally shined through the tracks. Equally, Kurt’s own electronic-heavy style meshes with “Serve ‘Em a Sentence,” an energetic synth creation that Keith rocks inside out while Motion Man caps it with a blazing verse. Still, tracks like “I Drop Money” still reflect that overall awkwardness that either makes parody of strip-club anthems, or just comes off ridiculously corny. Still, as Keith’s hooks and choruses have greatly improved, Kutmasta Kurt’s influence is duly noted with one of the most musical Kool Keith albums ever.

It would be a shame to see this record come and go like the others. If you’ve abandoned Kool Keith in the ten years after enjoying him, this may be your detour back.