Review Summary: Bizarre, twisted, creepy, eerie, sinister, grim and humorous sci-fi hip-hop
In 2000, hip-hop group Deltron 3030
became moderately well-known with their critically acclaimed self-titled sci-fi themed concept album. What many people don’t realise though is that this was not a totally original idea, and many of the ideas were influenced by 1996’s influential ‘Dr. Octagonecologyst’, a pioneering ‘acid rap’ album, and the debut of Dr. Octagon, one of Kool Keith’s aliases.
Unlike ‘Deltron 3030’ which has a rich, densely layered and cinematic sound, ‘Dr. Octagonecologyst’ is dark and low-key. The concept of the album focuses on the character of Dr. Octagon, an evil time travelling surgeon from Jupiter who pretends to be a gynaecologist and molests women. Despite the grim subject matter, it is done in a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek way. If horror punk band The Misfits
were to make a rap album it would probably sound something like this. At times it can sound terrifying, with screeching horror film style violins and sinister demented lyrics, but straight after sound completely cheesy and funny: ‘Think about it, if you was there standing looking at me / What would you do, if I hit your face with dog doodoo?’
Dr. Octagon is not the most technically impressive of rappers, but he definitely has a unique style his slightly high-pitched raspy delivery always sounds slightly paranoid and insane, fitting the music and character of Dr. Octagon perfectly.
Of course, this would mean nothing without the beats and production to back it up. Luckily Dr. Octagon is backed up by the immense talents of Dan the Automator (who would go on to work in the aforementioned Deltron 3030) who produces, and the DJing of DJ Q-Bert. Dan the Automator’s gloomy downbeat production gives the album it’s unique atmosphere; you can almost picture yourself in Dr. Octagon’s grimy surgery as you listen to it. While these beats, based mainly on hypnotic basslines and obscure jazz and soul samples are quite minimalistic, they create fantastic unorthodox creepy melodies and bring the haunting, nightmarish and futuristic atmosphere to life perfectly.
DJ Q-Bert fills the spaces with incredibly frantic and inventive scratches, that are always a joy to listen to and also add well to the creepy music. DJ Shadow makes an appearance for one track, ‘Waiting List’, where he co-produces with Dan the Automator. This fantastic production, and the music’s twisted bizarre melodies and obscure psychedelic sound effects bridge the gap between the complex atmospheric sound of trip-hop and regular hip-hop, creating a sound that still sounds unique today that has been described as ‘acid rap’.
Live music adds to the samples with Kool Keith himself playing upright bass, and the inclusion of electric guitars on certain tracks. Numerous backing vocalists also appear at times. This makes a nice change from most hip-hop that relies totally on samples.
‘Dr. Octagonecologyst’ is not without its flaws though. The strangeness of the music can make it quite difficult to listen to, especially if you’re used to more conventional hip-hop. Also, at over an hour long, ‘Dr. Octagonecologyst’ is slightly too long and inconsistent, with a few tracks that could easily have been removed. Kool Keith’s raspy rapping has also been criticised by some for being slightly grating and he relies a bit too much on repetitive vocal hooks slightly though this isn’t really that noticeable.
Overall, ‘Dr. Octagonecologyst’ is a great album though. It’s certainly not for everyone, but anyone interested in weird music (Comus
fans should love it) or rap that covers a different topic than your stereotypical guns, bling and bitches may probably be interested.