Ostensibly Kool Keith is giving away the “Total Orgasm” mixtape as a thank you to his fans for supporting “Love & Danger,” the latest in a long series of retail and direct sale albums from one of hip-hop’s most enigmatic and eccentric emcees. Don’t take my word for it though – that’s what the press release from his PR firm Audible Treats says. Apparently Keith found the time to record this album while touring everywhere from New York to Australia to the Gathering of the Juggalos.
When I say record though, I don’t just mean vocals. Unlike “Love & Danger” where DJ Junkaz Lou helped to tame Keith’s wildness, “Total Orgasm” is a return to familiar territory for Keith. Over 50% of this mixtape’s tracks are produced by Keith, and while his stream-of-consciousness rap often works in spite of itself, that’s not necessarily true for his production techniques. Many of Keith’s most inscrutable and insufferable albums have been when he handled both the beats and rhymes. At least out of 16 tracks, 7 still have someone else’s touch, which helps temper the musical maelstrom he brewed up on “Total Orgasm” a bit.
Unfortunately even the non-Keith tracks are at times problematic here. I have every reason to like “Acura” – DJ Junkaz Lou on the beat, legendary D.I.T.C. member Andre the Giant with guest vocals, and yet the production is a muddy mess. Worse yet, both rappers seem to be engaged in a lazy-off to see who can out-lethargic the other in lackluster lyrical delivery. Inexplicably he’s also remixed “R.I.P. Dr. Octagon” from the “Dr. Dooom 2” and sucked all of the lifeblood out of it too. The original was a funny over-the-top romp with a sinister KutMasta Kurt beat. The lyrics are the same, but the lifeblood has been sucked out of them by an alternate take which takes inspiration from DJ Screw without bothering to take talent.
“This is a true story; how I put the clamp on Octagon
Drowned him in the water until he was gone
Then he came back alive
I stabbed him over 17 times
But you people out there wouldn’t let him die
Y’all put him on the respirator
The critics that gave him mouth to mouth resuscitation was a hater
Dreamworks signed him to a major
Tony Isobel and Dan wanted to adopt him from the hospital
Again! Two weeks later, Dr. Octagon was dead
Electrocuted by electric razor
Octagon is GONE, this image was pawned
Every now and then I go visit him in the cemetery
On and on”
It should be a crime to do that to a KutMasta Kurt track. A literal felony to take lyrics this pointed and humorous and rob them of all their power. Perhaps we should be thankful that both Keith and Lou recycled “Extra Thoughts” off “Love & Danger” for this mixtape, because even Lou doesn’t try to remix what he got right the first time. “Bootys Low” featuring Big Sche Eastwood has some potential, but R.T. Music’s beat never gets out of the starting blocks and the Eastwood vocals are delivered in an almost inaudible LL Cool J “Phenomenon” whisper.
If the “Total Orgasm” mixtape succeeds in one and perhaps only one area, it’s in proving that Keith has gotten better as a producer over the years, though with such poor contributions his beats may simply sound better by comparison. Still there’s genuine musical quality in “Swag,” particularly in terms of the pounding bass and breakdowns, and how well mixed the vocals and instrumental are. The electronic background melody eventually becomes annoying, but it’s forgiveable. The minimal amount of production he does on “Slam Dunk” actually makes it live up to the title – it’s most hard hitting song here. The title track of “Total Orgasm” is all bass and beats, yet still manages to fit Keith’s oddball rap like a glove. The whistling melody of “Flash Gordon” could actually pass for a pop track and I had to laugh at Keith’s “I’ll make you suck my dick in a minute” sexual bravado on the song.
One and only one non-Keith produced track succeeds here, and that’s WMS The Sultan’s “Locka Locka,” which for Keith seemed to be a happy excuse to say that word as many times as possible in the span of a few minutes. When Keith raps “Watch Heidi Floess sniff a gram of coke with Peter” I did wonder though if he perhaps met Peeta Mellark, but I doubt Keith Thornton has seen that movie or read those novels. Then again he’s such an oddball individual, I wouldn’t put it past him to bake cheese buns in his kitchen, then leave them laying around in subway lavatories and take hidden camera photos of people picking them up and sniffing them. You can enjoy the zany aspects of “Total Orgasm” because they make no sense, but you can’t overlook that as a mixtape to celebrate “Love & Danger” it’s on the whole inferior to it by comparison.