It is said that the music we listen to reflects our personalities. If that’s true, what could liking this Kool Keith lyric possibly tell others about us?

“Digital level, standin’ on the terminal/ upside down through polygons fight pentagons/ changin’ blue skin, my brown color’s comin’ back/ I’m psychedelic this time, comin’ rainbow/ look at the green light, and ya’ll see my brain glow/ five colors: yellow, black, and red, and green/ purple”

What will people think of us when they discover Kool Keith has no driver’s license but does have three apartments in Los Angeles, all within walking distance of each other? Or that when he’s unhappy with his record label’s approach to distributing and promoting his latest album, he sics his followers on them, encouraging online protests and relentless spamming of record-label officials?

Is it our job to remind others that Keith was making ground-breaking hip-hop albums with the Ultramagnetic MCs when the Wu-Tang Clan were still in elementary school, and that he’s appeared on at least three-dozen albums since those days?

If the music we choose to listen to reflects our personalities, how does one justify, or even explain, being a Kool Keith fan?

We have no idea.

And furthermore, who cares? Keith has spent the better part of a twelve-year career independently creating original music while simultaneously being surrounded by copycats and style-biters. And even though he’s the first one to point out how hip-hop’s treated him like the redheaded stepchild, his music radiates the message that you are most important ingredient in the art you produce, and that yours is the only opinion that really matters.

When the opportunity to do an interview with hip-hop’s mystery man arose, we enlisted the help of Alien Workshop pro/music-label owner (P-Jay’s) Rob Dyrdek to do the question-asking. Rob met Keith at Roscoe’s (a soul-food haven in Hollywood) to interrogate the man with sixteen known alter egos, including Kool Keith, Dr. Octagon, Black Elvis, and someone called Fly Ricky: The Wine Taster …

Like we said, we have no idea.

How do you get chimpanzee acne?

When you touch a chimp and rub your face.

Who’s your favorite heavy metal group?

Rage Against The Machine.

Who do you think is the most overrated hip-hop star?

I don’t really know. There’re too many to mention.

Who’s the most underrated hip-hop star?

Myself.

Where would you eat if Roscoe’s and Red Lobster closed down?

Popeye’s.

Why don’t you have a driver’s license?

I like cabs. I love the smell of taxis, the backseat of a taxi.

You never want to own a car?

I’ve never been into materialistic things that much. I’ve never had a materialistic fetish. I could drink champagne every day, but it wouldn’t do anything.

What’s up with that Big Willy Smith album, wasn’t that on a random little label? Someone on the Internet told us there was a Kool Keith album on Big Willy Smith.

That was an album I put out myself, the Sex Style album. The Big Willy Smith album never came out in general. It was the Sex Style album.

Do you consider yourself a porno rapper?

No. My hobbies are tied into my music … me going shopping, me going to buy movies, me going to collect magazines. Those are all part of my life, so I think people see me as myself.

Now that you have a major deal, are they worried about content?

Musically the stuff I’m doing does not follow the average trend. It’s not what the record company machinery is used to. I broke the boundaries for brand new music. In the 70s everybody did their own music, and all the groups were original. Now they’ve diluted it with guest stars, producers, who’s on your album, alternate producer with the artist, artist with the producer. Now you don’t get a full album anymore with one artist. You don’t get full albums from Kool And The Gang; you don’t get an album from Zap. You get Zap proced by such and such or a collaboration. They’re not pure records anymore. Musically I support originality as far as that one artist makes his own music.

You don’t produce any of this stuff?

I produced the Black Elvis album.

You did all the tracks?

Yeah. It was the Kool Keith way of doing things. I did my whole album; I did a new sound; I didn’t do nothing trendy. I think that’s where the innovating comes in about me. I played a lot of my keyboards, I made analog sounds, and I created new sounds, and that’s what we got now.

Do you think it’s the future sound?

Yeah. People look at the highest people as maybe George Clinton for making some new type of sound that’s funky and different. I didn’t copy Zap, I didn’t copy Roger or anybody else in the top ten. I went out of the boundaries of the standard record company sound. Everybody’s album has basically the same sound, same keyboards, and same drums. Whereas a lot of the sounds in my albums from Dr. Doom to a lot of the stuff I’ve done with Ultra Magnetic MCs, you’ve never heard. The sounds of Dr. Doom and Black Elvis were customized. Analog is customized sounds. It’s basically, you twist a knob and make a sound; if you turn the knob again, you’ve lost the sound. Whereas digital, you turn on your keyboard and the sound is automatically there. When people hear my albums, they hear custom sounds.

If anything they people hated me because I made something new. A lot of people were coming out with their albums for the future, the new millennium. People were using gimmicks, walking in saying, “Well, okay, I’m gonna call my album The Future. I’m gonna call my album this.” But we can’t really say that album is the future because they’re using technology from the past.

How do you feel about all the college kids who love Kool Keith and everything he does, but wouldn’t even know that your alter egos even existed, or even what you did with Ultra back in the day?

They wouldn’t even know because a lot of publications and publicity are negative. It’s not really catered toward telling the truth. Anybody into commodity and sales doesn’t really want to give kids the truth¿they’re trying to sell their magazine. They could care less about telling the truth. It’s been going on for years. They try to rewrite the bible.

What happened with Dan The Automator? Why’d you kill Dr. Octagon?

Automator is real cool. I think Automator wanted to go do his thing. Octagon was cool, but it was a shared project that he did. I got tired of people comparing the last hype of my stuff to the Octagon. Sex Style, Dr. Octagon, Ultra, I wanted to get out of that. Octagon is not my best record. It’s a masterpiece in something, but it’s not the height. I want to do new stuff.

What’s up with the straitjackets?

That’s my stuff. All that’s my creativity. Basically, I’ve been the creator of all that stuff.

How do you come up with lyrics?Is it a reflection of your lifestyle or mental attitude?

Exactly. My music plays 99 percent of my personality.

What do you think about people in hip-hop who dis what you’re about?

I think they’re jealous. Rappers have stolen so much shit from me that when they go on these award shows and television shows and have their interviews, they should at least acknowledge that “Yo, I got all my shit from Kool Keith. I stole his shit, yo.”

Who’s the number-one thief?

Everybody in the industry. Every record company has at least one artist that boo-eys some shit I already did, or tries to be like me, or is a big fan of mine. Old people are jealous because they can’t realize how I stayed so far to the new people. The new people are jealous ’cause they think I’m so back in time I should be out of date.

Are you down with Showbiz and O.G.?

Oh yeah.

I got a record label, and we did two tracks with O.G.

Oh yeah.

He’s pretty deep. Do you prefer a rave scene or a club?

I like raves. I think they’re very good. They’re very open. Clubs are too trendy. I think raves are great.

Do you know anything whatsoever about skateboarding?

Yeah. I got a BMX bike. I’m always going to a skateboard shop to fix my bike. I got a twenty-inch Schwinn. You know about that, right?

I got a GT.

Oh yeah. You stay out here?

Yeah, I got a place on Wilshire.

Maybe we’ll go riding one day.

Now that you have your own pro-model skateboard, are you gonna start skateboarding on a Kool Keith skateboard?

I’d love to.

We’ll have to hook you up with some wheels, ’cause now you’re a pro skateboarder if you have a pro model. Kool Keith Black Elvis board.

How’s yours decorated?

Aliens and shit. I ride for a company called Alien Workshop. They’re all futuristic. A little skateboard, hip hop, super star, pro skateboarder, just like that.

or a club?

I like raves. I think they’re very good. They’re very open. Clubs are too trendy. I think raves are great.

Do you know anything whatsoever about skateboarding?

Yeah. I got a BMX bike. I’m always going to a skateboard shop to fix my bike. I got a twenty-inch Schwinn. You know about that, right?

I got a GT.

Oh yeah. You stay out here?

Yeah, I got a place on Wilshire.

Maybe we’ll go riding one day.

Now that you have your own pro-model skateboard, are you gonna start skateboarding on a Kool Keith skateboard?

I’d love to.

We’ll have to hook you up with some wheels, ’cause now you’re a pro skateboarder if you have a pro model. Kool Keith Black Elvis board.

How’s yours decorated?

Aliens and shit. I ride for a company called Alien Workshop. They’re all futuristic. A little skateboard, hip hop, super star, pro skateboarder, just like that.