It’s been about a decade since Dr. Octagonecologyst, the classic collaboration between Kool Keith and Dan “The Automator” Nakamura. I was a sophomore in college at the time, carefree, idealistic, my journal filled with way more interesting things than it is now. And as I hear myself saying things like, “I don’t get kids these days,” I really wonder what’s next in my life: With The Return of Dr. Octagon, Keith is back making the weirdest, nonsensical hip-hop on the planet, offering proof that maybe the interesting things in life don’t always change, and that maybe I don’t have to either.
Yes, Keith has put out some fairly shitty records (we don’t have to discuss the Black Elvis thing, do we?), but with The Return, it really feels like he’s back on point. This completely absurd and animated record’s 14 tracks touch on all kinds of topics: dogs wearing lingerie, what to do when the aliens come, why weak motherfuckers are trying to be Al Green, a gorilla driving a pick- up truck. Then there are the songs that lean on the political (‘Trees’), and the skits, some of which are just flat-out perverted. At every turn, the good doctor catches the listener off guard, and it feels great to exist outside the cookie cutter, even if only for a moment.
But Dr. Octagon’s slanted rhyme style begs for spacey, unusual beats, and thankfully here, the songs progress with unusual and danceable electronic rhythms that are never repetitive. The Berlin production team of One Watt Sun helped out on this record, which also features guest spots from Princess Superstar (“Eat It”) and DJ Dexter. The aging rapper has shown he can come back from the brink of insanity (he was in the nut house for a stint), and climb to the top of the list currently occupied by artists he’s so clearly influenced, e.g. MF Doom and Madvillain. May we all age so gracefully.