I’ve always had confidence in Kool Keith when it comes to that aspect. Apart from Lil B, I struggle to think of another artist who’s as consistently productive and seemingly carefree about it as Keith Thornton. Both of them share a common drive to keep putting out content compulsively, often disregarding the final quality. Keith cleverly remarks on “Photo Session,” saying, “I don’t have to pack a bunch of singles then throw ’em out though,” which is a truth well-known to his fans and critics alike. While the track got the single treatment and even a music video, any song from “Bikinis N Thongs” could have received the same treatment and achieved a similar impact. It’s clear that his focus lies less on his performance and more on indulging in his other interests, which, even without considering the album title, are clearly sexual in nature.
The silver lining in any Keith project tends to be its production. When he’s in sync with his musical collaborators, he transitions from delivering lackluster bars about women and undergarments to genuinely putting in effort. Moments like this can be found on “Bikinis N Thongs,” where Denis Deft and Yeti Beats manage to coax out that side of him. A track like “Nasty Girl,” featuring Mr. Maaly, is a prime example of this. However, it’s hard to determine who deserves the credit here. Yeti Beats is more recognized, probably due to his work with Doja Cat. On the other hand, Deft, also known as Denis Martinez, has a history of collaborations with Keith dating back to the late 90s, although there seem to be no collaborations after this album. Curious indeed.
Another element that prevents a Kool Keith project from completely falling apart is the inclusion of guest vocals. Ironically, Keith Thornton himself is absent from a few of these songs, such as “Give It 2U Girl,” a title that suggests he’d be a part of it. Interestingly, it’s not Yeti (who coincidentally even looks like one – no offense to him). Instead, Denis Deft steps into Keith’s shoes. “Baby, there’s no point in you fighting/if I’m the one you’re interested in/you know I find you so captivating.” It’s not quite on par with what Keith could deliver himself. Some might even argue it’s worse. The track “Executive Suites” stands as proof, where this mediocre rapper shares the microphone with Keith.
So, after spending 40 minutes listening to “Bikinis N Thongs,” what’s left to say? Not much on the positive side. If you’ve been following Keith’s career for a while, you’re probably familiar with the pattern. And if you’re new to this, pardon me for keeping this brief. It’s honestly exhausting to approach a new Keith Thornton album with renewed hope that he’ll showcase the skills that earned him a place as a rap legend. While he might not receive accolades from the mainstream establishment, I’m more than happy to give him credit for his contributions as a member of Ultramagnetic, a solo artist, and for his various alter egos. When he’s in the zone and aiming to be one of the most inventive and captivating figures in rap, he can undoubtedly deliver top-notch material that withstands the test of time. But when he’s not fully engaged and treats his music as “a hobby,” the outcome is what we have here.