Known as a co-founder of renowned and legendary hip-hop act Ultramagnetic MCs and for a lengthy and uncompromising solo career in which he has taken up a number of aliases and personas, while collaborating with an array of emcees and producers, Kool Keith is arguably one of hip-hop’s most idiosyncratic and eccentric personalities and artists — and throughout his incredibly prolific recording career, he has continually perfected and expanded upon his inimitable flow, full of surreal and fantastical tangents, grimly violent and nightmarish imagery, sexual and pop cultural references while effortlessly and frequently switching perspectives, moods and points of view within the same song.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site, you know that I’ve written quite a bit about Kool Keith and his various solo releases, reissues and collaborations but interestingly, the imitable emcee along with collaborators Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert have teamed to revive his alter ego Dr. Octagon 20+ years after the critically applauded, revolutionary debut effort Dr. Octagonecologyst. “Octagon Octagon,” the first single from the trio’s long-awaited Dr. Octagonecologyst follow up, Moosebumps: an exploration into modern day horripilation is a bit of a return to form for the trio — but possessing a frenzied urgency that could only come from marathon 24-hour recording sessions at Dan The Automator’s studio. Kool Keith reprises his lecherous and hopelessly incorrigible Dr. Octagon, who has insane sexual exploits, performs even odder surgeries but with an impossible, outlandish surrealism that’s at points absolutely hilarious, flat out weird and other times horrifying, sometimes within the turn of a phrase; in fact, Moosebumps: an exploration into modern day horripilation’s first single “Octagon Octagon” was wryly intelligent and absurdly satirical commentary on capitalism, branding, advertising and free, as Kool Keith rhymes about Dr. Octagon being shamelessly opportunistic and greedy, putting his name on rice and beens, gasoline, tampons and anything else that would pay him over a minimalist yet menacing production, which emphasizes the Kool Keith’s imitable, almost Dada-esque flow.
“Flying Waterbed,” Moosebumps’ latest single features a slow-burning, production that’s oddly reminiscent of Scott Walker’s Scott Walker 3 as it features soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, a looped and shimmering guitar line, a mournful yet regal horn line and stuttering drums, and as a result it possesses a hallucinogenic, dream-like air. Throughout Kool Keith rhymes in absurdist non-sequiturs to create punchlines with surreal imagery — “busted kneecaps like Kobe,” “nasal so big I can fly aircraft up your nose,” references to space ships, “I’m a Martian with a Stephen Curry face” “tube socks, looking like Dr. J.” It’s drugged out as fuck, yet strangely mournful and sexy — and perhaps even more so with Interpol’s Paul Banks singing the hook.
Directed by Joel Knoernschild, the recently released video for “Flying Waterbed” is centered around the imagery of old Kung Fu movies; in fact, it features Roy Chen performing Kung Fu with a tea kettle, much to the annoyance of two unimpressed customers and in several gorgeous yet urban setups.