Somewhere in the far reaches of the most abstract corners of space, lays Dr. Octagon; the homicidal, maniacal, alter-ego of rapper and producer, Kool Keith. Able to set an unprecedented style of concept rap that shook the airwaves, Kool Keith, or better known as Dr. Octagon made rap take an unexpected turn into more than just music. It became known as a story-telling device that was more advanced than human comprehension, told stories of unknown mysteries that begged to be deciphered, and showed Keith’s lyrical and productive prowess.
Dr. Octagon was not alone on his journey through creating musical science, his allies would become Dan “The Automator” Nakamura and “KutMasta” Kurt Matlin. Their skills were unmatched as the three-headed hydra of production, lyrical ability, and creativity would spawn one of the most diabolical, but overall intriguing style of records that would resonate in hip-hop as a monument in experimental success.
Including cuts from pornographic films, samples of classical music, and outlandish proportions of variety in production, Dr. Octagonecologyst moves primarily in a subtle creep. It makes slow, deep cuts with the tracks, “3000,” “Wild and Crazy,” and “Technical Difficulties,” where the drums are the focal point and relies on a synthesizer or bass line that takes a relaxed, but alert approach to the production and keeps Dr. Octagon lyrics staying in a prolific style of flow that is unlike anything else that surrounds hip-hop at the time. Hearing Dr. Octagon rap his lines on “3000” for the first time is like hearing a medical professional rattle off terms at light speed. It is near impossible to keep up with every single metaphor and punchline, especially rhymes that switch from, “Rappers that budge, making moves step in grooves, and hide the pace like at thirty-three dark shades…Suckers with the mics that end up with tooth decay, I, the Doctor, stop ya, in your world rock ya. Heads bop, forever tunes and they won’t stop like hip-hop.” Dr. Octagon continually switches his flow and that is what keeps Dr. Octagonecologyst rewarding from start to finish.
On a following track “Earth People,” Dr. Octagon moves his rhyme scheme to create a storyboard of his fictional character’s flow, “First patient, pull out the skull, remove the cancer. Breaking his back, chisel necks for the answer, Supersonic bionic robot voodoo power, equator ex my chance to flex skills on Ampex.” While the lyrical flow seems almost as if it is overkill, when mixed with the outer space style beats and his radical sense of character, Dr. Octagon becomes more rational and believable. While this is the primary functionality of Dr. Octagon, it does change once again to create a more approachable style of track like the following, “No Awareness” which contains another lyrical strike of Cobra-fast rhymes, but contains a more standard style of hip-hop beat.
The true experimental style is where Dr. Octagonecologyst truly shines however, “Blue Flowers” is another track that progresses the journey into Dr. Octagon’s descent into madness. Also released as one of the three singles from the record, “Blue Flowers” is a boom-bap styled beat that eventually fades in violins that make this instrumental truly stand out from the crowd. It is one of the strongest instrumentals on Dr. Octagonecologyst and the way that Dr. Octagon rides it and becomes engrossed inside it makes for a substantial turn into the midway mark of the album. Dr. Octagon begins a rhyming scheme that involves onomatopoeia and raw lyrical ability, “East and South with blood pouring down your mouth, I come prepared with the white suit and stethoscope. Listen to your heartbeat, delete beep…beep…beep….” Then Dr. Octagon moves on to another skit track that can be summed up as, “A Visit To The Gynecologist.”
Another hard-hitting instrumental track that acts more as an interlude before the destruction is “Bear Witness,” a rapid-fire assault of jungle like percussion, a riveting bass line, and a sample of Urban Sound Surgeon that describes almost in a Chuck D-esque anthem voice, “Create rap music cause I never dug disco.” Almost as quickly as it comes, it disappears and turns into the smooth, love-filled ballad of “Girl Let Me Touch You.”
This is the closest thing that Dr. Octagon can come to making a love song that discusses how bad he simply wants to “talk awhile.” Dr. Octagon begins by stating, “I got a mask at home, boots and some leather gear, how about me and you and black, I’m hitting from the back.” While bordering on almost comedic, Dr. Octagon goes into great length of describing his sexual fantasies with the unnamed woman of his dreams. After creating a near-fetish scene of rubber and latex, Dr. Octagon moves into polar-opposite territory where he describes a grotesque scene on “I’m Destructive.”
It is the incredible nature of consistent style changes that keeps Dr. Octagonecologyst a wonderful experience of experimental hip-hop that forever changed the ways that hip-hop was viewed. It became more than just music, more than just a cultural voice, it became an art form that was masterful and appreciated for more than just a short-lived medium. Dr. Octagon made the progressive cuts forward into the future of hip-hop, spawning a new wave of artists to break through and create their own style while staying true to themselves.