Kool Keith has always been one for reinvention, but also one to revisit the same concepts over and over again. On one hand, we’ve seen Keith perform under various identities and member to numerous groups, each of his respective projects coming with a different sound or style. However, the most successful of these offshoots was Dr. Octagon, and as many times as he has “killed” the character, the project just won’t die.
While his Dr. Dooom project, First Come First Served, attempted to slay the Octagon character some ten years ago, a directionless Keith had to win some fans back after a handful of disappointing solo releases, namely Black Elvis, Matthew and Spankmaster. A series of new Dr. Octagon projects manifested themselves – all produced by outside parties that had nothing to do with the original release – each of which ultimately led to failure. The most consistent of these was perhaps Mr. Nagatco’ Nagatco Rd., while the bootleg Dr. Octagon 2 and The Return of Dr. Octagon projects soiled the legacy of the original release. So, here we are, back at square one, with Dr. Dooom 2, which is led by - wait for it - “R.I.P. Dr. Octagon”.
The difference this time around, is that Kut Masta Kurt is back in the fold, who produced both the original Dooom LP, as well as shared production duties on the classic Dr. Octagon. Keith is back on his weird shit – rapping about things like gorillas, moose, and rats, however in all of it’s experimentation, Keith’s rhyme cadence is stranger than ever, with a rushed, off-beat style that doesn’t necessarily compliment Kurt’s production. While Kurt is usually no slouch on the boards, here we find some of his oddest production yet, with darker beats that evoke images of horror movie scenes. It’s a new style for Kurt – different than the disturbing slow burn found on Octagon or the more tradition boom-bap found on his Dilated records – but it fits the off-kilter style of the project. Had Keith not seemed so careless in his rhyming duties, perhaps these beats might have had a better chance to shine.
Sadly, Keith tries to beat the critics to the punch by suggesting that they/we will compare this record to the first one, and fuck us for doing so. But it’s a sequel – so the comparison is inevitable – but he’s right, it’s not as good as First Come First Served, plain and simple. The problems with the album lie in an obvious lack of quality control that Keith has been showing at this stage in his career. Even listening to the recently released Sex Style Unreleased Archives shows us that these two had plenty of more brilliance left up their collective sleeve, but Dr. Dooom 2 suggests it’s either all used up or just not being harnessed correctly. – D.T. Swinga
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