“Rap to me is a hobby/but I got my life.”
I have never doubted Kool Keith on that front. Other than Lil B I can’t name a single artist who is more prolific and more casual about it than Keith Thornton. They both seem to have the same inner drive to compulsively release more products, and less concern about the quality of the end result. “I don’t have to pack a bunch of singles then throw ’em out though” quips Keith on “Photo Session,” revealing a truth that was already well known to fans and critics alike. Even though this track got the single/music video treatment, any song from “Bikinis N Thongs” could have gotten the same push to equal effect. He’s less interested in his performance than in indulging his other hobbies, which even without the album title you’d be aware are generally sexual.
The saving grace of any Keith project tends to be production. If he’s feeling who he’s working with musically he goes from phoning in bored sounding bars about broads and bras to putting in a genuine effort. There are times on “Bikinis N Thongs” where Denis Deft and Yeti Beats do actually pull that out of him, “Nasty Girl” featuring Mr. Maaly being one such occasion. I’m not sure who deserves the credit though. Yeti Beats is the person you undoubtedly know better thanks to his work with Doja Cat. Deft a/k/a Denis Martinez is known for collaborating with Keith multiple times dating back to the late 90’s, but I can’t find anything they did together after this album. Hmm.
The other thing that keeps a Kool Keith project from falling off a cliff is guest vocals. The funny thing about that is that Keith Thornton is absent from some of these songs altogether such as “Give It 2U Girl,” which certainly bares a title that sounds like he’d be on it. It’s definitely not Yeti (who kind of looks like one – no offense to him) so it’s Denis Deft himself filling Keith’s role. “Baby ain’t no point of you fighting/if I’m the one that you liking/you know I find you so striking.” It’s not better than what Keith could do himself. It’s arguably worse. “Executive Suites” is the proof as the same mediocre rapper shares the mic with Keith.
So after listening to “Bikinis N Thongs” for 40 minutes, what more is there to say? Not much that’s positive. If you’re a long time reader you know the deal, and if you’re not you’ll have to excuse me for keeping this brief. It’s exhausting to go into a Keith Thornton album I’ve never reviewed before with fresh hope that he’ll show me glimpses of the skill that made him a rap legend. He may never get those accolades from the Academy, but I’ll give them to him all day as a member of Ultramagnetic, as a solo artist, and for the many different alter egos he has used. When he wants to be one of the most innovative and intriguing people in rap, he’s capable of world class material that stands the test of time. When he’s phoning it in and treating it like “a hobby” you get this.