Kool Keith, QBert & Dan The Automator Will Perform Dr. Octagon Live For The First Time
In 1996, Kool Keith and his career were at a crossroads. For the last decade, the Bronx, New Yorker had been pushing the envelope of technical rhyme patterns, cadences, and crafty lyricism as the defacto figurehead of the Ultramagnetic MC’s. As the group would disband for hiatus (resuming a decade later), the MC who has admitted to multiple personalities set out on a journey that would recolor his legacy, and reach legions of fans beyond his work with MCs Ultra, or Fondle ‘Em Records side-project the Cenubites.
Relocating to the West Coast, Keith began working with Dan Nakamura (aka Dan The Automator) on what would become “Dr. Octagon.” The subsequent album, Dr. Octagonecologyst featured Keith on rhymes, Dan largely on beats (with additional contributions from Kutmasta Kurt), and emerging world champion turntablist DJ QBert on the cuts. Released through Dreamworks/Geffen, and later Mo’ Wax, the LP included features from Keith’s then-protege Sir Menelik (aka Scaramanga) of Cenubites. DJ Shadow would also provide a remix, with another B-side mix by Prince Paul coming later.
It has been announced that for the first time in nearly 21 years, three of the men behind “Dr. Octagon” will perform together. Kool Keith, Dan The Automator, and DJ QBert announced two dates: March 6 at San Francisco, California’s The Independent, and March 7 at Los Angeles’ Teregram Ballroom. More information is available online.
Speaking with Ambrosia For Heads, Keith responded to the impact of the LP. “That album got me in tax trouble,” he began with a laugh. “But naw, it means a lot to give the fans what they been waiting for [after] so long. Some people were teenagers when [Dr. Octagonecologyst] dropped. Now, some of them are 40 and over.” He added that the critical and fan response to the album “shaped my career,” propelling him to further explore a side of himself that fans up until 1996 had only seen snippets of.
Following Octagon (which is documented incredibly by its makers in Brian Coleman’s Check The Technique, Vol. 2 book), Keith would continue the character-driven releases over the next 20 years. The critical acclaim of Octagon led Keith to a major label deal with RuffHouse/Columbia for his “Black Elvis” era. In 1999, his “Dr. Dooom” persona fictionally and symbolically killed of “Octagon” on the First Come, First Served album. In 2006, however, Keith released The Return of Dr. Octagon.
While no longer involved with new recording, Dan The Automator would go on to form Gorillaz, Deltron 3030, and Handsome Boy Modeling School. On his own, QBert would become a spokesperson for Vestax, and a key ambassador for turntablism throughout the next 20 years. Last year, his Invisibl Skratch Piklz released reunion LP, The 13th Floor.
A Dr. Octagonecologyst box set is planned for release in 2017 through Universal Records/Traffic Entertainment.
Last year, Keith released two albums: Tashan Dorsett / The Preacher, a continuation of another character, and Feature Magnetic. That album is below.
Earlier this month (February 1), Main Source reunited on stage in New York City. They are another 1990s Hip-Hop group with one album made under its original LP lineup.
#BonusBeat: Kool Keith’s Feature Magnetic:
That album features DOOM, Slug, Bumpy Knuckles, and others.