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The best kept secret in music


"'Aliens' single review at Live On Stage."

Ahhhhhhhhh! There are so many things going on in this single I don’t know where the fuck to start. It’s full of instrument, tempo and lyrical changes. It would seem that Dr Octagon’s head is jam packed with wonderful ideas and he’s gone and put every one of them on Aliens. I reckon the best bet is to discuss the beat and the vocals seperately. And what a beat it is!!!

Aliens kicks off with a guitar sample that sounds more like a spring paired with a basic kick-snare drum pattern. It starts off simple but this track is harder to keep up with than Linford Christie over the hundred metre dash! In rapid succession we are introduced to phaser effected bass, dogs barking and an outerspace melody. YES, an outer space melody. Remember those weird sounds you hear in Lost in Space?

There’s more changes on this tune than on the face of Michael Jackson, it’s more Off The Wall than Pink Floyd: it’s like Outkast on ‘shrooms. It’s quite simply nuts. The previous sounds are quickly sacrificed for a piano that would sound right at home in an old western saloon, audience applause, and distorted 80’s synth sounds. This is a brief transition as the track quickens its pace into a frenzy of ska fuelled madness. Woah…off beat guitars and filthy organs: I love it!

A name like Kool Keith, an alias of Dr Octagon, reeks of old school hip-hop like VW badges, huge clocks and box hair cuts. Would he let us down? Of course he wouldn’t. Renowned for being in the seminal old school hip hop trio Ultramagnetic MC’s, Dr Octagon wears his insanity on his sleeve. Hailing from the mean side of the Bronx (I never knew there was another side), Dr Octagon is one cool motherfucker. And I haven’t even started on the lyrical content

At first listen to his lyrics it’s understandable that you think Dr Octagon has a few screws loose. However, on closer inspection you will discover there is method to his madness. Flows like ‘From the Mercury astronaut George Austin, To the economics liberation in Boston’ are undeniable proof of this.

‘What am I gonna do when the aliens get here?’ echoes out as the tune begins. The vocals here are like rap mixed with spoken word. His lyrics and the way he flows them give the impression that he is speaking to the listener, and answering his initial question. I guess if pushed, his vocal style could be compared to Q-Tip, with lyrical content reminiscent of early System of a Down, but these probably wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.

The vocals here are more original than a pair of Levi’s 501s and as fresh as milk straight from the cows udder. There aren’t the typical 16 bar verses nor is there a chorus in sight. With that said, the insanity of the beat often takes your attention from the words.

Aliens is still hip hop but with a musical profficency that has left my chin bloody because I can’t get my jaw off the floor. I don’t know what else to say but that this track is the ticket. Dr Octagon’s album is out soon and this single gives it amazing potential for greatness. Dr Octagon has my stamp of approval. And it’s a big fucking stamp too!
- 14/07/07

""Ants" and "Trees" reviewed at News OK"

I have yet to hear the entire album, but "Ants" and "Trees" are truly the hottest hip-hop tracks I've heard this year that had nothing to do with Danger Mouse. For "The Return of Dr. Octagon," Kool Keith opted out of working with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, who wove the atmosphere on the last Doc Ock disc, 1996's "Dr. Octagonecologist." Instead, he worked with a trio of producers called One Watt Sun, and these songs sound like they've been jolted with a live wire. If One Watt Sun isn't the next big production team in hip-hop, it certainly deserves to be.
by Goerge Lang
-, 07/707/06

"Inventive Musical Theatre"

album review at

Kool Keith’s infamous alter ego is back and crazier than ever with The Return of Dr. Octagon. Bursting with bizarre flow that only a crazed surgeon could create, The Return of Dr. Octagon is a pleasant second coming that many thought we would never see.
Dr. Octagon’s new world, with the help of production team One Watt Sun, is twisted beyond belief; gorillas are driving pick-up trucks, operators are masturbating, and everyone’s trying to be Al Green. For those who haven’t lost complete mental control at this point, The Return of Dr. Octagon is a fantastic bed of electro/hip-hop that is beyond its years in terms of originality and innovation.

In a dreamland where hip-hop and electronica live together in twisted harmony, Kool Keith delivers a solid collection of inventive musical theatre…that is, for those willing to step into his realm.
by Jordan Davidoff
-, 06/07/06

"Newsweek, Top 7 Albums of Summer 2006."

Dr. Octagon, ‘The Return of Dr. Octagon’
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Kool Keith created this alter ego (his first among several) and delivered the scatological classic "Dr. Octagonecologyst." Given that the bad doctor returns without the production skills of Dan (The Automator) Nakamura, fans would be forgiven for being wary. They have nothing to fear. If this album surpasses its predecessor, full credit goes to the Berlin production trio One Watt Sun, who come off sounding like a cross between Parliament-Funkadelic and Kraftwerk—call it Krautfunk—especially on bizarre cuts like "Al Green." Dr. Octagon himself is still plenty twisted, if a little less sophomoric about it: he's a giant, rapping about the absurdity of the human condition ("Ants"); he's overly concerned about abduction ("Aliens"), and, with the help of New York's Princess Superstar, he delivers one of the sexier antiwar jams in a generation ("Eat It"). Dr. Octagon may be sick in the head, but he's good for whatever ails you.
by Brian Braiker
- Newsweek Magazine

"The Return of Dr Octagon in Billboard"

Despite rumours that one of the few MCs to have taken the Hippocratic Oath had met his demise (in the opening track on the 1999 Dr. Dooom -- another Kool Keith creation -- album First Come, First Served), Dr. Octagon was, in fact, alive and though the actual events were unclear (they always are with aliens), while the Doctor was away, his unauthorized clones began moving throughout the galaxy with the purpose of destroying each world in it. The clones, apparently (this entire story was revealed in an eight-episode online comic which marked the eight weeks prior to the release of the new album), were controlled by a giant gorilla with malicious intentions, and it was only a matter of time until his pursuit to obliterate the universe and Dr. Octagon led him to our own planet. Simultaneously, but equally as grave, Earth's inhabitants were systematically destroying themselves with bad music. We desperately needed a saviour! Luckily, not only was Dr. Octagon ready and willing, this time, unlike in Dr. Octagonecologyst, when the MC's concern was more on the "health" of the female body, The Return of Dr. Octagon finds someone who's matured somewhat, whose focus has broadened, who's truly worried about the state of humankind, both physically and musically; in short, someone who could truly save the world. What propels Dr. Octagon and his new album to the ranks of superhero isn't just the MC's new topical focus. It's the beats. Dr. Octagonecologyst showcased the sparse, slightly eerie work of Dan the Automator, leading to numerous collaborations and projects for the producer, and though assuredly Dan Nakamura would have done a fantastic job again, Keith went with the three-man team One Watt Sun, who truly make the album erupt in crackling, electrified explosions of keyboards, processed guitars, horns, and turntables, knocking politely and then shoving its way into pop, dirty blues, rock, and R&B. There are few samples -- much is produced organically -- and the themes twist through and out of each other like dervishes wildly reaching some kind of esoteric, exalted spiritual plain. Lyrically, the album is as creative and innovative as what you would expect from someone who wrote a song called "Halfsharkalligatorhalfman," and it generally sticks to the motives for Dr. Octagon's return as the songs' themes. There are aliens, of course, like in "A Gorilla Driving a Pick-Up Truck," where electrified dusty blues licks blow like thunder clouds across the plains and Dr. Octagon's low, breathy voice tells the bizarre story of being chased by a huge primate and attempting to ward it off, but there are also as many, if not more, songs about man's own behaviour toward himself and his environment. "Using material for Christmas, papers get printed/Trees may get extinct like the elephants," he says in "Trees," and though here we may just have to trust his abilities as an oracle, there's something about the way he says it that makes it seem absolutely believable. The Return of Dr. Octagon doesn't always make a lot of sense, but that's the beauty of it. It's a kind of concept album that concentrates more on the actual overall sound of the album than the concepts. Its elements are all on the very edge of control, which is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time; if it works, it could bring us to where we've never been, protect us from what may be, but if it fails, it could kill us all. And though perhaps we may have to wait for a new album to see if the gorilla wins in the end, for the moment it seems as if we're safe.
by Marisa Brown
- 01/07/06

"Top 10 Rap Albums."

Keith Thornton or Kool Keith earned his stripes as part of the legendary New York crew, Ultramagnetic MCs. Keith avoided the limelight for many years before staging a comeback with the aptly titled The Return of Dr. Octagon. The Return is an electrifying head-scratcher for those who think they have hip-hop completely figured out.
by Henry Adaso
- 03/06/06

"Allmusic, "the hottest campaign soundtrack ever""

As a fan of 1996's Dr. Octagonecologyst I was excited to learn that the good Doctor himself was going to be releasing another album. Of course, being that his debut pretty much set the stage for underground hip-hop's interest in aliens and alternate universes and personas and all that other stuff I never totally got, I knew the introduction of The Return of Dr. Octagon to the world wasn't going to be a straightforward affair. And it wasn't. It came in the form of this eight-episode online comic about finding a mysterious package (an MP3 player with 13 songs on it) and the quest that followed to figure out if it was actually from Dr. Octagon, who had previously been presumed dead. I just went to the MySpace site, where I listened to possibly the best save-the-earth song I've ever heard, "Trees"; of the 2,500-odd plays it's had, I'm at least 1,000 of those. Kool Keith is like Smokey the Bear mixed with Captain Planet mixed with this guy in Ann Arbor who always dances to Michael Jackson in an alleyway downtown (I hope someone like him exists in every city -- he's amazing). "Where'd you get that bench and table from?" Keith asks like a righteous politician, and I look guiltily around me every time. He could say anything and I'd agree, but there's still nothing like aggressive environmentalism to get your foot tapping. All I can say is that if there's a Gore-Octagon bill in 2008, that's where all my money's going, because it'd definitely have the hottest campaign soundtrack ever.
by Marisa Brown.

"Album Review at HipHopDX"

God bless former Ultramagnetic MC “Kool Keith” Thornton, crazy motherfucker that he is. Less than a month after unveiling the alien-obsessed ravings of his new Mr. Nogatco persona, he brings back his most beloved character. Dr. Octagon, the deranged gynecologist from the year 3000 returns for yet another strikingly original effort rife with all manner of disgusting bodily fluids. For those unaware, the original Dr. Octagon album, a collaborative effort with Dan The Automater on the boards and DJ Q-Bert on the wheels, was released 10 years ago. Dr. Octagynecologist was an instant cult classic, sounding like nothing that had ever been made before.
"Our operators are masturbating right now, but your call has been placed in a bucket of stomach fluid and will be attended by a double-talking robot approximately 7,000 years from now," Keith intones seriously on the opening intro (which practically to be used as an answering machine message), before launching into the furious, futuristic electro-funk of Trees. The sound of which suggests Keith may be the unholy offspring of Afrika Bambaataa and Blowfly. The monolithic stomp of Aliens features Thornton's trademark verbose flow, which is full of colorful imagery and occasionally obtuse lyrics that serve to draw you deeper into the enigmatic worlds he creates. Ants uses grinding guitars, Indian-influenced strings and a neck-snapping beat to create a killer backing track as Keith portrays himself as a giant looking down on the mindless drones of humanity: "Ants/Terrible looking/Walking side to side like a work farm/Some mean no harm/With the Fire Department, ring the alarm/Ants work for America/Some work for Saddam." He may be crazy, but lyrics like this prove Kool Keith is no fool.
On the skit Don't Worry Mz Pop Music, Thornton decries the moronic state of the genre, but on Perfect World he proves that few hip-hop artists on the current scene can match him for balancing sheer ingenious creativity with infectious musical accessibility. This is Kool Keith's best album in years-- arguably even better than his classic Octagonecologyst-- and marks a fine return to form for one of rap music's most distinctive and original talents.
by B. Love
- 07/07/06

""more hits than Elvis""

It's like 800 years in the making but the elusive Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith) has returned. Put it this way, it's been so long since his last record, cover artist Pushead was still considered cool!

So, here it is 2006 and the mighty Doctor has returned with The Return of Dr. Octagon and it's a doozy. The album is a brilliant off center hip hop record that is not like anything currently flooding the marketplace. There are no cliché's, and no pimp cups surrounding this record. There is however, funk. Lots and lots of funk. In fact, you can almost think of Dr. Octagon as an amalgamation of Parliament, Ultramagnetic MC's, and James Brown. In other words the precursor to those other hip hop funk kooks, Gnarls Barkley.

Sure The Return of Dr. Octagon has it's pure hip hop moments but a vast majority of this record is so much more than run of the mill rhymesaying. The record is a twisted ride into the brain of Kool Keith. It's practically a white knuckle ride more intense than Mission: Space at Epcot. It's bizarre, groovy, funny, and really really good.

Check out the quirky funk of , "Ants," the dark electro tinges of, "Perfect World," and the soul soaked, "Al Green," for sure fire dance floor, sub woofer rattling hits. Don't think for a second that these "hits" are in the vain of Top 40 disposable rap songs. No, The Return of Dr. Octagon isn't an ordinary hip hop album but it just happens to have more hits than Elvis and more funk the Bootsy Collins. The record just oozes funky goodness and from the get go, it never lets up.

The Return of Dr. Octagon is a brilliant return to form. Of course it should be, it only took a DECADE to get around to making. About the only complaint with this record is the annoying sample that constantly appears on the record. It's there so that hacks don't put it on the net. As a result it's essentially made this record useless and just about unlistenable. That however, shouldn't put you the punter off from seeking out this disc when it comes out.
by Paul Zimmerman

"The Return,..Album Review"

I couldn't resist. After i saw the video for "aliens", the first single from the return of dr octagon, i knew i wouldn't be able to wait long before grabbing the record. though he's been horribly inconsistent, kool keith is still probably my favorite mc of all time, so after a string of missteps in the past few years, i've been waiting for him to do something really innovative again. this is it.

the original dr octagon record, dr octagonecologyst, was a collaboration between keith, dan the automator, and dj qbert, three immensely talented people. dan the automator and qbert are not involved with the return. in their place is a berlin-based production trio called one watt sun. i'd never heard of these cats (and tragically, their website seems to be down today, two days after the release of the record that could launch them to stardom), but they manage to fill those shoes admirably.

sonically, this record doesn't sound anything like dr octagonecologyst, but after 8 years, i'd probably be disappointed if it did. the return is full of escher-esque left turns, where three lefts don't necessarily make a right. styles change dramatically not just from song to song, but from segment to segment. there are tracks that resemble stuff you've heard before in mainstream hip-hop, and then there are tracks like "a gorilla driving a pickup truck" where keith almost sounds like mike patton à la "RV" mumbling over drums and slide guitar. but the stylistic shifts are more subtle than you might get from mr bungle; they flow smoothly and subtly—if you weren't paying attention you might not even notice the bizarre tempo changes in the first single, "aliens", for one example.

for whatever reason, it seems like nobody makes hip-hop that's as structurally complex as the return of dr octagon, or if they do, it's invariably instrumental or turntablist stuff. most hip-hop with vocals hangs around a handful of loops that repeat with little variation. repetition is great—i use it plenty in my own music—but i've been hungering for years for hip-hop that was willing to be this adventurous. even kool keith, who's as lyrically daring as anyone, has never put out a record that was this structurally experimental. yes, this is probably the most experimental record that kool keith has ever put out.
the doctor is in.
by Stallio
- 6/29/06


Still working on that hot first release.


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