Dr. Octagon – Dr. Octagonecologyst (1996): Review

octagon

Produced by Kurt Matlin and Dan Nakamura
Label – Bulk

Conceptual hip hop albums are a rare creation, but one artist, Kool Keith has released a number of collections with a central theme, tying in sub genres such as horrorcore, pornocore, and creating characters such as Dr Dooom, Mr Nogatco, and Black Elvis. Kool Keith (real name Keith Thornton) is an abstract rapper who originally found recognition in the Bronx based Ultramagnetic MC’s. Teaming up with musician/producer Dan (The Automator) Nakamura his most notable and best remembered creation is the barbaric, sex obsessed surgeon/butcher from Jupiter, Dr Octagon. “Dr Octagonecologyst” catalogues the eerie, mostly incompetent surgical experiments, gruesome gynaecological examinations, and unexpectedly demented skits.

dr_octagon

Over the space of just over an hour the bizarre and shocking stories leave the listener wondering if this is the voice of some kind of seriously sinister creep show or a ridiculous clown looking for shock tactics to attract an audience. It’s likely Keith couldn’t explain the objective, but the unhinged meanderings and medical gobbledygook become increasingly unnecessary as it takes away the potency of the initial concept, which in fairness is an interesting proposition. Admittedly there are some engaging moments, which include the preface to the story (“3000”), the funky James Brown and Kool & The Gang samples that lace “Bear Witness”, and the intense “I’m Destructive”. Nakamura’s backing is necessarily machine like to highlight the protagonist’s outer worldly presence, perfunctory rather than crucial. In context, it probably suits the subject matter, but over the course of the record becomes soul less, barren and at times abandoned of the usual sparks of inspiration we’ve come to know him for.

Mainly purchased by white teenage boys, much to the chagrin of Kool Keith, who would swiftly kill off the character, “Dr Octagonacologyst” is regarded as a land mark album in the development of hip hop. For this listener it’s just an interesting idea, muddied by too many blood curdling histrionics to be taken seriously. It’s either the voice of a madman or an attention seeking artist willing to gain attention by shock tactics at all costs.

6/10

Track Rating
1 – Intro (6)
2 – 3000 (7)
3 – I Got To Tell You (na)
4 – Earth People (6)
5 – No Awareness (6)
6 – Real Raw (6)
7 – General Hospital (na)
8 – Blue Flowers (6)
9 – Technical Difficulties (5)
10 – A Visit To The Gynaecologist (4)
11 – Bear Witness (7)
12 – Dr. Octagon (6)
13 – Girl Let Me Touch You (6)
14 – I’m Destructive (7)
15 – Wild And Crazy (6)
16 – Elective Surgery (na)
17 – Halfsharkalligatorhalfman (5)
18 – Blue Flowers Revisited (5)
19 – Waiting List (6)
20 – 1977 (6)

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