Kool Keith Steps Into Black Elvis Persona Again

Eccentric rapper working on sequel to last year's Black Elvis/Lost in Space album.

Old-school rapper Kool Keith has transformed himself again into his alter ego, the intergalactic Black Elvis. The eccentric MC recently began work on the sequel to Black Elvis/Lost in Space (1999) and said the new disc will be even farther out of this world.

"It's 10-times more futuristic and funkier than the last album," Keith said Friday. "I'm not out there trying to be somebody else right now. Everybody else to me is lost; they trying to be somebody else. You got people trying to duplicate the Latin sound, you got people remixing old funk back again — I'm not doing that. I'm making brand new stuff. I'm not trying to be Marilyn Manson II, I'm not trying to copy Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix or George Clinton."

Keith (born Keith Thornton) said Black Elvis 8000: The Return should be in stores in May.

The rapper also has two other projects in the pipeline, a rock-oriented project and a funk album he's calling Big Red. "[Big Red] will be a very distinguished, funk-sounding record," he said. "It's urban-sounding, but Southern, not just inner-city."

Keith will ring in 2001 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, sharing a bill with BT, Junior Sanchez and Armand van Helden. The rapper said he's having a tough time deciding what to wear for the occasion.

"I don't know if I should be super-fly-out or just come retro, a baseball cap and shiny jeans," he said. "It's gotta be something."

Keith, who has been known to throw out chicken wings during his concerts, said the New Year's audience "will be fed properly, as usual. Of course, I never come without my chickens. We may throw apple pies out, an occasional dessert." His set will span his career.

First appearing in the mid-'80s as a member of the Bronx-based Ultramagnetic MC's, Keith recorded his best-known work, 1997's Dr. Octagonecologist, under the name Dr. Octagon. The rapper dropped Matthew on Funky Ass Records in the summer.

Keith is also up for a guest part in a new Warner Bros. Television show called "Dead Last" and may contribute music to the series as well. The show, a comedy about a struggling rock band, has not been scheduled to premiere.