NPR logo Dr. Octagon's Seduction of the Invaders

Dr. Octagon's Seduction of the Invaders


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Dr. Octagon, a.k.a. rapper Kool Keith, creates a science-fiction caper in miniature. hide caption

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Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "Aliens"
  • Artist: Dr. Octagon
  • CD: The Return of Dr. Octagon
  • Genre: Hip-Hop

The long-overdue Return of Dr. Octagon opens with a 24-second parody of an automated phone system, in which the operators of Chemical Bank and Insurance warn that "your personality may be monitored to improve our ability to ruin your life." That's followed by an expression of concern about the environment, with a hook built around the line, "Trees are dying." These moments serve as fair warning for the weirdness that follows.

The good Doctor, known to hip-hop fans as Kool Keith of Ultramagnetic MCs, has been in the way-back machine, checking out the stream-of-consciousness experimental records Funkadelic made in the early '70s. He's been hunched over a juicy beat-box brew for so long that he's starting to believe the talk about aliens. Wearing his "protoplasm protection suit" and monitoring the activity of the invaders, he's prepping a heavy backbeat and a Gap Band-style synth bassline in the hope that said groove may be the best way to seduce them. Then, a little more than halfway through this oddity, the vamp suddenly speeds up, and what was a slamming stomp morphs into a more agile ska rhythm.

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It's as though Dr. Octagon flipped a switch and changed decades: Suddenly it's the underground '80s, when funk was mixed into everything and bands like Fishbone were terrorizing dance floors. By the time this science-fiction caper in miniature ends, the styles and funk attitudes are all blurred together, subsumed into the rare bit of contemporary hip-hop that fully commits to celebrating genuine weirdness.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Return of Dr. Octagon
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