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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Dr. Octagon - 'Dr. Octagonecologyst' (Dreamworks/Bulk)

God, the 90s were great. I forgot I had this, and I probably haven't listened to it in a decade, but I remember every word. I must have listened to this a lot in my University years, because almost every one of Kool Keith's bizarre lyrics has stayed with me. Every once in awhile I give hip-hop a chance, but I've learned that whenever it gets talked about as being "experimental" or "psychedelic" it's rarely those things. This would certainly be psychedelic from a lyrical perspective, in a horror movie way, though the frequent bizarre sex jokes and animal nonsense make Dr. Octagonecologyst  a unique, unclassifiable beast. No, I think this works precisely because it's not experimental at all. It's grounded by stunning hip-hop backing tracks courtesy of Dan the Automator, and I think the reason none of Keith Thrornton's followups have been very good is because this magical pairing was something that could only happen once. There's no atmosphere quite like this, even if this wasn't rap music; the skits don't bug me, the porno samples are somehow appropriate, and there's a few tracks (particularly 'Technical Difficulties') that verge into truly unexplored territory and are actually awe-inspiring at points. I saw Keith live, sometime around the Dr. Dooom album or maybe Matthew, and it was one of the worst performances I've ever seen, disappointing me to the point where I probably haven't listened to this since. As floundering as his post-Octagon career has been (and there's an article on Grantland that gets into the recent years), it's all forgiven for the magic of 'Blue Flowers', 'Earth People' and 'halfsharkalligatorhalfman' (a title which has a beautiful logic in itself). I'm not really qualified to discuss hip-hop at all, and my tastes (as revealed on these pages) are so hideously tied to white people my age that I'm embarrassed at my own stereotype. But this stays with me, a relic of my life that I've spent enough time with to forever feel a kinship when I meet, to cite a recent example, someone who signs their iPhone emails with "Sent from my 7XL (not yet invented)."

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