Kool Keith and Kutmasta Kurt 

Diesel Truckers (Threshold)

The reunion of Kool Keith and Kutmasta Kurt is one of those musical what-took-them-so-long? moments: There are few producers who know how to handle Keith's stream of unconsciousness better than his fellow Funky Redneck. Since their last pairing on 2000's Masters of Illusion, Keith's work has often featured beats that tried to match his surrealism, blow for disorienting blow. Diesel Truckers reminds you that that isn't necessary; Kurt's old-school boom-bap gives his partner the room he needs to be his singular, screwy self.

That approach recalls Keith's pioneering late-'80s/early '90s work in the underappreciated Ultramagnetic MCs ("The Legendary"), and even more bizarrely, it sometimes skirts the mainstream (the hooky hip-hop reminiscence "Takin' It Back"). But most important, it never obscures prime nuttiness -- like the crime-and-punishment fantasy "Serve 'Em a Sentence" or Keith's latest attack on OutKast's Andre 3000 -- with the lo-fi, cut-and-paste psychedelia of recent albums. Diesel Truckers won't join the canon of Keith classics, like his work as Drs. Octagon and Dooom; there are moments where it's hard to distinguish the simple beats and gags from the stuff they're supposedly lampooning. But on most of this disc, the joke's once again on the rest of the industry.


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