It is hard to know what to expect going into a Kool Keith show. The man of many names (Dr. Dooom, Black Elvis, Dr. Octagon to name a few) is one of hip hop's most enigmatic and eccentric characters. He combines strange and smooth quite like no other. The erotic visuals accompanying the set and even his choice of outfit only add to the bizarre, yet suave, mystique that surrounds Kool Keith.
The initial melody of Ultramagnetic MC's tracks gets the ball rolling suitably. The lacklustre freestyle that follows is admirable for sheer length alone, but was by no means awe inspiring. It is the Dr. Octagon material that uplifts the show to new heights and Black Elvis keeps it there briefly. Full tracks are a rarity in the set. Towards the end he delivers hook after hook, highlighting the size of his back catalogue but never showcasing his talent for delivering perfectly off beat rhymes.
His hype man and DJ are really the glue holding the show together. Kutmasta Kurt's mixing and scratching is supreme and polishes the weaker segments of the set. The hype man proves he is a necessity by interacting with the crowd and raising energy levels. Kool Keith's demeanour isn't built for these duties and it's hard to imagine what the show being any way exciting without the hype man.
After an exhilarating run through of 'Poppa Large' he gathers as many women on stage as possible and leads them to the VIP bar, for god knows what. The show was definitely highly entertaining, but has it's share of awkward moments. It satisfies the fans by giving a glimpse into the many different characters that Keith has brought to life over the course of his 31 year long career. It doesn't consistently deliver and that is what someone with countless amounts of studio albums should be able to guarantee for everyone. -Ross Logan
The Pharcyde are a group whose aesthetic was tailored perfectly for hip hop’s Daisy Age. However, they were perhaps a bit late to fully capitalise on the market that was paved for them by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul. They took on the task of flying the flag for the alternative side of L.A hip hop during Dr. Dre and Tupac’s heyday and it something they are still firmly willing to do today. Due to some legal issues with past members of the group who are still touring under the original name, the show was advertised as ‘Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde’ to avoid confusion or lawsuits. These issues have not hindered, but most likely have inspired, their undeniable energy on stage as they proved during this smile-inducing gig at the Sugar Club.
There is no literal or figurative barrier between the act and the crowd. They happily pause to take photos or rap from the seating area with fans, always acknowledging and appreciating the love being shown for them. Selling copies of their most recent release doesn’t feel like a money grabbing tactic, but serves in highlighting the hard work and grinding that comes with being a hip hop artist, even when you’re considered as a ‘classic’ group. Others in their position would maybe feel above peddling hard copies but it is this dedication that has enabled them to still fill venues in 2015, even with a duplicate group touring the world at the same time.
Each member of the now 4 man group is a seasoned professional on the microphone. Breath control and projection are clearly second nature to each one of the emcees. Fair enough they have been performing a lot of this set for past 20 odd years, but there is no feeling that they are just going through the motions. K Natural may be able to mime Slimkid3’s crowd interaction word for word, probably having heard 100s of times by now, but if it isn’t broke why try fix it?