Introducing the return of the real Dr. Octagon | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Introducing the return of the real Dr. Octagon 

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click to enlarge Kool Keith

Kool Keith

courtesy the artist

When CMH Records released The Return of Dr. Octagon in 2006, hip-hop DJ and producer Dan the Automator said, “That wasn’t a Dr. Octagon record. . . . Dr. Octagon is me, Kool Keith, and Q-Bert. The label didn’t have the legal right to use the name, but I didn’t want to get involved in a legal battle.” I mean, yes, word. Dr. Octagonecologyst, the 1996 debut of Dr. Octagon (and technically the solo debut of Ultramagnetic MCs member Keith), is brilliant because of the equally valuable contributions of all three of its principals: Keith’s avant-weirdo, thesaurus-scouring rapping; Dan the Automator’s spooky, dusty, and trip-hop-heavy beats; and Q-Bert’s scratching, which is to spinning records what Eddie Van Halen is to electric guitar. Let’s take “Halfsharkalligatorhalfman” as an example. Keith describes himself as the title character, who lives in a world where “monkeys sniffin’ ice” and “people watch space parasites,” while the lyrics are backed to Raymond Scott-style electronic effects and funky drum breaks. Fortunately, this tour features all the original members, so what you see is authentically half sharkalligator, half man.   v

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