Review Summary: Kool Keith and Tim Dog are absolutely disgusted by the fact that wack rappers continue to exist. They made an album to tell you about it.
'Big Time' is an album that has one of the least complicated themes of any Kool Keith project: Kool Keith and Tim Dog are better rappers than you, they have more diamonds and money than you, the rap industry is wack, and you should stop biting their style. While most other acclaimed Kool Keith records deal with concepts such as eating tampons, outer space abortions, and having his German Shepherd give you an orgasm, Big Time is essentially an album of battle raps and disses over great production by Kutmaster Kurt. Rapping alongside Kool Keith is Tim Dog -- a fellow Bronx battle rapper and past Ultramagnetic MC's collaborator. This was the last album Keith released before taking on multiple different pseudonyms and solidifying his reputation as one of hip-hop's most interesting characters. It's an often overlooked album that seems to have been buried beneath the success of his earlier works and the albums that immediately followed. It also stands among his best and should be mentioned with his other classics.
The first song, Super Luv, starts with an "interview" asking why Keith always uses words like anal, rectum, doo-doo, and pee-pee. He responds with "Because that's what the whole fuckin' rap industry is". He raps for 3 minutes straight about why every other rapper is terrible and how he'll fix this problem. The track is fantastic and does a great job foreshadowing the basic theme and mood of the entire record. Kutmaster Kurt is in top form as well, combining very clean production with dark, textured synths over boom-bap style drum loops.
After this is a string of tracks featuring both Keith and Tim Dog, all about -- again-- how every other rapper is garbage and how they are actually the only rappers who are not garbage. Tim Dog is a great rapper in his own right and does a good job complimenting Keith's more abstract style. All of these follow the same formula of Keith and Tim taking turns shitting on rappers, with Kurt providing great production. The track 'Big Time' features production from P-I-RE-X and has more of a west-coast feel to it, but the subject matter remains the same. These songs do a great job accomplishing the goal of calling out wackness and at this point I'm convinced that I should give up rapping.
Private Eyes takes a spaced out, west-coast, booty jam detour and ends up being a highlight of the album. The lyrics are about a voyeuristic Keith taking pictures of women in g-strings through their apartment windows. It's super weird and is somewhat of a precursor to his "pornocore" style that he adopted on his album Sex Style the following year. It's unsettling and interesting at the same time. This is the second track with production by P-I-RE-X and it feels like it could be on any number of classic records from California in the early 90's. I imagine some weird strip club DJ has played this at 3 in the afternoon before, to much success.
The back half of this album mirrors the beginning, Tim and Keith trading battle rhymes with the occasional solo Keith song. Motion Man provides a frantic feature on 'Ain't Nobody Happenin' but it's short and overshadowed by strong verses from Tim and Keith. Strong production throughout ties everything together. Bizarre is another stand out track, with maybe the most abstract lyrics on the entire album and weird almost auto-tuned vocals that are kinda interesting in the context of modern hip-hop.
'Big Time' is a solid record that has been overlooked by many, including fans of Kool Keith. It does suffer from a lack of variety that and there are tracks like Private Eyes that might turn off the people who just want to hear battle raps. It is however, one of my favorite projects Keith did-- I feel like it really plays to his strengths without getting lost in the ridiculous concepts he has tried over and over again over the past ~20 years. Just angry and weird bars about wack rappers over good beats.