25 Years Later, the Acid is Still Potent
“Armed with seven rounds of space doo-doo pistols.”
The first hip-hop album (it was actually a cassette tape) I ever bought was To the Extreme, by Vanilla Ice. I was eight, and I used $10 from my birthday stash to cop it. This is what I thought rap music was in 1991. Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, Kriss Kross, Salt N’ Peppa,Sir Mix-A-Lot — radio hits that coaxed suburban, mayo neck boys like me into wearing our fits backwards from the ankles up. When a neighbor thumped “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” one day, my entire perspective on hip-hop shifted. At that point in history, gangsta rap had already been around for a minute, but I missed all that since I was learning phonics in Kindergarten at the time. “Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang” was the beginning of the end of listening to that sugar-coated shit.
For the next few years, through the mid-90s, as I hit middle school and then high school, I built a massive CD collection of mostly hip-hop albums. We’re talking around 175 CDs before I graduated from high school. I had a taste for the East Coast aesthetic despite spending my entire life on the West Coast. Big Pun, Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, DMX, Redman albums packed the 200 CD behemoth carrying case I managed to stuff under the seat of the used granny-mobile that I pushed. I dabbled heavily in the Dirty South, too; the Outkasts, Goodie Mobs, 8Ball & MJGs, the Master Ps. When I discovered artists on the indie Rawkus Records, I thought I had a comprehensive handle on what hip-hop music was. You know, that “Hip-Hop” hip-hop.
It’s late 1999, my senior year of high school, and I’m at my friends’ apartment — some older guys I worked with at Round Table pizza and knew from high school. It’s early Saturday morning after a closing shift, and we’re kicking back, playing some video games, and listening to music. My friend throws on an album from some rapper named Dr. Octagon, and off we went. There wasn’t another album out that was such a deviation from the norm like Dr. Octagonecologyst. For sure, there weren’t a lot of MCs like Kool Keith looking to break the mold of the familiar, nor were there producers like Dan the Automator who were looking to return to the creativity that earlier alternative hip-hop acts had shown.
On Dr. Octagonecologyst, lyrically, Kool Keith went full gonzo mode. He is the grotesque mouthpiece for the evil doctor. Automator and KutMasta Kurt are the mad maestros behind the production. Automator’s work here was the precursor to the genius he pulled off a few years later on Deltron 3030. DJ Qbert innovates turntablism right before our very ears, doing wild shit like running his turntables through a wah-wah pedal. Dr. Octagon, the character, exists because of the collective talents of these guys. To remove one from the equation would be like removing one of the three coeternals from the Holy Trinity.
No surprise that 25 years later, Dr. Octagonecologyst still holds its weight as a bonafide underground classic. It’s a bizarre and macabre trip through the cosmos with a rapping Hannibal Lecter alien doctor who specializes in intestinal surgery, rectal re-building, relocating saliva glands, relieving chimpanzee acne, cannibalism, indiscriminate unprotected sex with female patients, and off course, removing moosebumps. You need to have a certain kind of taste in graphic humor to even sign up for this ride.
So many rappers in the 90s were giving you their versions of Scarface — literally sampling from that movie — but only one rapper was giving you Cronenberg movies, with sick beats as the soundtrack. No one asked for it, but it’s because no one knew they needed it. If you haven’t ever heard this album, but you are intrigued by my hap-hazard description of it, I recommend you sample these tracks first to whet your appetite.
This is a super villain’s theme song and an appropriate track to follow the porno inspired album intro. You know you’re in for some shit when that intro wraps up with a repeated plea by a female patient to have her vagina humped by the evil doctor.
Kool Keith delivers meters packed so full of words and syllables that his rhyming doesn’t flow as much as it rhymes. Check it:
“I crank up lyrical flows, spit Spats/ What’s that?/ The pattern records, don’t touch the DATs, yo/Check out the pro-skills, medic fulfills/ Contact react to style, I’m back — you lack/ Channels and handles, Automator’s on the panels/ Turing knobs, you slobs suckers like Baskin Robbins/ Carvell don’t tell — your while crew is ice cream fudge/ Rappers that budge, making moves step in grooves/ And ride the pace like at thirty-three dark shades/ Now you seeing me/ Rap moves on to the year three thousand.”
That’s the entire first verse; the perfect table-setting piece for this album. Keith’s lyrics feel like they stop and restart in the middle of the rhyme, but it works well with Automator’s beats. He pulls together some wild ass Jean-Jaques Perry and Pat Martino samples, slows them down, and arranges them with his brilliant ear for the fantastic. It’s impossible for listeners not to get pulled into this realm. You wouldn’t think fried chicken and waffles would be a thing either if you didn’t know any better.
Might be the definitive track on this album for some fans. It’s menacing but only as far as the synthesizers will take you. Keith’s lyrics descend into the inane immediately, and it’s hard not to laugh.
Although “3000” is the first song on the album, “Earth People” feels like it is the real jump off for Dr. Octagonecologyst. This album is weird from the start, but it takes a turn towards the demented here.
“First patient, pull out the skull, remove the cancer/ Breaking his back, chisel necks for the answer/ Supersonic-bionic-robot-voodoo power/ Equator X my chance to flex skills on Ampex/ With power meters and heaters gauge anti-freeze.”
Two bars later, Keith hits us with “React with four bombs and six fire missiles/ Armed with seven rounds of space doo-doo pistols.”
You get it. It’s silly, like the Naked Gun meets Evil Dead, which I guess is really just what the Evil Dead is, but then you add a psycho-horny Patch Adams. That’s Dr. Octagonecologyst.
Dr. Octagon and his evil assistant, Sir Melenik, run through their notes on the trials and tribulations of cannibalism and constructing a Frankenstein monster of their very own. Then, they hit you with the chorus.
“And you say, no awareness/Swift as gold.”
If you liked what you heard from those tracks, check out “Blue Flowers”, “Halfsharkalligatorhalfman”, and “Real Raw” (Qbert kills it). If you hated all of it, check out the instrumental version of this album. If you are experiencing any ill side effects from listening to Dr. Octagonecologyst, like festering toenails, pubic hair inflammation, or smokey colon, dial
1–800-PP5–1DOODOO for a delayed response.