I’m not sure why or how but it seems like at some point in the 2000’s Kool Keith and Jacky Jasper had a falling out. You wouldn’t know it from the fact they released albums together as KHM and Clayborne Family, nor from Keith being on Jasper’s fifth solo album “Keep My Shit Clean” covered here, but it seems like things reached a low point when Keith recorded the song “Betrayal.” Keith pulls no punches before he even starts rapping: “I don’t know what I did to this man, but he always gotta talk about me/I guess he’s jealous what I’m doing, fucked up in his mind.”
Coincidentally or not though the falling out seems to coincide with the time Sean Merrick moved away from his music career to focus on being a Hollywood celebrity gossip reporter. Unfortunately that too seems to have had a falling out, with no new videos produced or uploaded in almost a year, though the global pandemic may have contributed to him closing up shop. Suffice it to say it was my memories of Merrick, whether you refer to him as HDV, Jasper or H-Bomb, that caused me to unintentionally stumble across Keith’s diss. In better times before their falling out they were a one two punch of over-the-top pimpology on songs like “I Want U.”
Keith’s friendship with Ice-T also led to them all making appearances for each other, such as Detective Tutuola providing the hook and title for the song “It’s Jacky Jasper Little Bitch!” Be warned in advance of clicking play on this song though — if you’re not comfortable with a rapper spitting some incredibly homophobic lyrics this is one you should skip over, Ice or no Ice. “Your hand under your boy’s nuts for the hand off […] Tevin Campbell and you both labelled as faggots.” That’s among the nicer things he has to say.
Hearing the vitriolic raps made me wonder what I (or Keith) saw in Jacky Jasper, but then songs like “I’m Tired” featuring Chino XL and Trigger Tha Gambler brought me back around. Even with the unforgivable unnecessary gay bashing then or now, there’s an openness to uniting both East and West coast on his music along with a “let’s get away from fake images and back to real rap” aesthetic to his tracks. It’s disappointing he couldn’t achieve that same level of underground grimy rap without constantly dropping slurs, but to single him out for it would be to deny that many rappers have dropped the “F bomb” from the old school to the modern day with little to no consequences for it.
Unfortunately even when it works, it only works in sporadic spurts. Jasper is capable of making good cameos on tracks by Keith or others, can hold it down on a few well produced songs for a while, then completely loses any grip on dope with a banal song like “Runnin Them Ho’s.” Keith’s cameo doesn’t help. It’s a bad instrumental, it’s a bad rap, and it’s not even good pimp game. He just ends up reading a list of women he likes to bone or whore out by lumping them into broad stereotypes. “Asian, Caucasian, chocolate, favorite, Latino, got it/my hoes, you want it/baby I own it.” The whole thing leaves you feeling nauseated.
It’s weird to hear an acclaimed and legendary funk musician like Roger Troutman lending an air of legitimacy to the proceedings here on the song “Westside.” The song sounds like Zapp and it’s no surprise given Troutman’s presence, but one wonders if he knew what the rest of the album was going to sound like when he recorded it.
“Keep My Shit Clean” is an album title that doesn’t fit an incredibly messy release. Of course the most obvious interpretation is the most misogynistic one, based on both his subject matter and the ladies who appear to be shining his boots (among other things) on the cover. The problem is that the music isn’t as clean as his footwear. Some tracks sound just fine, while others like “Porn Star” are the kind of self-indulgent bullshit I’d call Keith out for if it was one of HIS albums. Maybe the reason they had a falling out is that they’re too much alike and their egos collided as a result. To Keith’s credit though he’s still recording and releasing music and at least seems to be in on his own jokes, while Jasper seems almost anxious to be taken seriously here to the point he gets in his own way.