Paging Dr. Octagon
Triumphant or resistant, an innovator returns
By Marisa Demarco
It was your average rabies call. Dr. Octagon was paged to Room 109, unaware of his looming demise. “I’ll tell you what,” spat Dr. Dooom as Octagon entered. “Take this, motherfucker. Take two of these and call me in the morning.” And thus, the good doctor was capped. Cause of death? Multiple GSWs (gunshot wounds) from a nemesis Octagon never saw coming.
This is how Kool Keith, progenitor of both hip-hop docs, began the follow-up to 1997’s seminal Dr. Octagonecologyst, by killing his dystopian alter ego dead—with more than just a hint of brutal satisfaction, too. The fans had come in droves. Even those who could never get next to a lick of that rap stuff found themselaves nodding along to Doc Oc and his stream-of-consciousness flows, which were mastered and massaged by the deft hands of Dan the Automator and DJ QBert.
Imagine Keith’s surprise when his despised superstar persona, the one he worked to outrun the limitations of for years, fought his way back to life on last year’s Return of Dr. Octagon. The disc left Keith wondering whether he’d executed Octagon well enough or if he ever could. The greedy label villains at OCD Records could only lick their chops when they’d imagined how big Octagon’s return would be.
According to Keith, he was as curious as anyone else when it came to what his cash-fueled resurrection would sound like. He’d recorded the tracks years prior, but after some no-less-than-superhero-sized drama, he ditched out, splitting off other aspects of his haunted mind with an impressive roster of identities. OCD sent the tracks, which had been gathering dust in the vaults for years, to One Watt Sun, a production team that gleaned only the vocals from the original work and remade it in Octagon’s own image.
The hardcore fans, predictably, hated the disc. But anyone with affection for the bizarre can muster up a fondness for Octagon’s comeback, never mind its immaculate conception. And how much can Keith the Kool abhor it if he’s willing to tour on The Return, to make videos for it?
Though Keith may again be ready to put some mileage between the Octagon, M.D. and himself, I’m willing to bet they’re always going to be a bit cozier than Keith might prefer. And I’m sure Keith’s at least as smart as Octagon, whether or not he’s wearing a cape.
That’s why I’m going to the show, to see the visionary head case that re-created rap when it was stagnating, who raves as much as he raps, who abandoned his first success and then lived to see the day when it would come back to bite him in the ass. Like it or not, Doc, I’m a fan.
Legendary Dr. Octagon just might write you a pornographic prescription at the Launchpad this Friday, April 27. The show is all-ages. Doors open at 8 p.m. Also performing: Speed One/Cheops, Dirty Spoons/SOL and DJ Scientific. Find tickets at LA Underground, Natural Sound and virtuous.com.
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