KutMasta Kurt Presents Masters of Illusion (2000)
“You want a freestyle, suck my dick,” curses Kool Keith on “U Want Freestyle?” The furious track, diced up by DJ Revolution, features the Black Elvis at his hardest, even while ripping off non sequiturs like “Nasty like Nas, Batman combined with Method Man/G. Rap, hydraulic supersonic, call me shark man.” Thanks to Keith’s reinvigorated spirit, Masters of Illusion, a collaboration between himself, East Bay MC Motion Man, and producer KutMasta Kurt is something of a hardcore indie romp – intelligent, lyrically obtuse, and deliriously profane. Kool Keith is still a smart ass, spitting lyrics like, “Your girl is on the birth control pill,” but his delivery is intense and focused, steering clear of the high-pitched whining that turned his last solo album Matthew into a unpleasant, histrionic fit. Keith’s impressive performance overshadows longtime collaborator Motion Man. Motion Man raps like a professional debater, running through his rhymes with lightning-quick speed. Like the infamously solipsistic Kool Keith, Motion Man is also a surrealist, claiming his “head is hollow point-tipped, straight penetrate deep in your school,” on “Magnum Be I,” and portraying himself as a vigilante, serial MC killer, and lyrical nerd. KutMasta Kurt’s animated production provides the third and final element in Masters of Illusion’s unholy trinity. Thankfully, his work here is less Keith’s Sex Style (G-funk castoffs) than Dilated Peoples’ “Work the Angles” (thumping bass on keyboards). He serves up a handful of genuine bangers, looping Audio Two on “Step Up,” and dropping a funky guitar hook amidst DJ Rhettmatic’s inspired scratches on “Time 2 Get Right.” There’s not much of a conceptual thrust (illustrated during a Shockwave video included on the CD for the single “We All Over”) behind Masters of Illusion other than Motion Man and Kool Keith’s “flamboyant status” and oddball perspectives, which produce some genuinely funny moments. “I’m black coffee for you non-morning people,” Motion Man claims on “Step Up.” Not to be outdone, Kool Keith adds, “I’ll light a match and throw it at you at a gas station.” Beneath the elaborate disguise, Masters of Illusion is an energetic jam session between three accomplished musicians. Threshold Recordings.