Dr. Octagon is back! Or is he? Kool Keith fans will surely remember the first Dr. Octagon "sequel," unoriginally titled "Dr. Octagon II." If the rather bland title hadn't tipped Kool Keith fans off, one listen would have been enough to have most fans wondering what was up. That time, the project was an unofficial and illegal release that was eventually pulled from the shelves. This time around all signs point to the fact that this is an official Kool Keith release but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a quality release. As is the case with all Kool Keith releases, you might encounter the greatness he exhibited on "Sex Style" and "Dr. Octagon" or the mediocrity he showed on "Spankmaster." "The Return of Dr. Octagon" somehow manages to drop below "Spankmaster" due mostly to the lack of material on the release. The fact that the label releasing this album is hyping the "Dr. Octagon" part so heavily only hurts its chances as fans are basically forced to compare it to the original and it doesn't even come close.
The production is handled by European production trio One Watt Sun. Their work is solid for the most part but definitely has a different vibe from the original "Dr. Octagon" CD. "Trees" has an upbeat, techno-pop vibe to it that would probably sound cheesy were it not for Kool Keith's vocals. "Aliens" slows things down and is more in line with Kool Keith's usual choice in beats but is still a little too playful. DJ Dexter shows up to do the cuts on "Ants" while One Watt Sun find inspiration in what sounds like Indian music. By the time you start reaching midpoint through the album it becomes apparent that while One Watt Sun can cook up some interesting beats, they do not fit Kool Keith's style very well. Tracks like "Perfect World" and "Al Green" sound like they would be more at home on a brit-pop CD. "A Gorilla Driving A Pick-Up Truck" and "Dr. Octagon" fit the ramblings of a perverted doctor much better as they have a darker mood.
Kool Keith himself isn't at top form on this album either. A huge part of that has to do with the fact that the album is ridiculously short. The album is a little over 34 minutes long, counting a horrendous Princess Superstar track tacked on to the end. If you take that track away then you're left with an album that is less that half and hour long. An album that's less than 30 minutes is completely unacceptable, but it gets even worse when you consider the fact that the album is "spliced and diced together" by Kool Keith. Splicing and dicing translates into tracks that are usually made up of one Kool Keith verse tops and rarely reach three minutes. The one verse featured on the track is stretched out to fill the full 2-3 minutes on the track by repeating, sometimes constantly, one or two lines from the verse. "Al Green" runs at 2m 45s and features approximately 5-6 lines looped at various points. Included among these "gems" are "Everybody dressed like they from Pakistan" and "Why you motherfuckers trying to be like Al Green." It's already hard enough to make sense of Keith when he's delivering full verses and songs, but given random lines in such small quantities makes him entirely incomprehensible. On some songs, such as "Ants," the limited Kool Keith material is decent but overall fans will feel entirely shortchanged by this release.
You know, I would have much more preferred that this would have been another bootleg Kool Keith album put together by shiest business men. If that was the case there would have at least been an excuse for the utter wackness contained on this album. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the people at OCD International and One Watt Sun took this project very seriously and probably shelled out a good stack of dough to get a chance to work with Keith. I'm also sure that they had full intentions of putting together a quality Keith release. Heck, Kool Keith's splicing and dicing technique may have been a whole-hearted attempt to bring Dr. Octagon into the new millennium on some futuristic shit. But taking into account the fact that there is probably 15-20 minutes worth of actual Kool Keith verses on this release it is completely unacceptable that this is being passed off as a full album. If I were you I'd save your money and check out Keith's "Mr. Nogatco" and "Project Polaroid" CD's instead.
Music Vibes: 5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 2.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 3.5 of 10
Originally posted: June 27, 2006