Rapper. Orthopedic surgeon. Gynecologist. Resident of planet Jupiter. 1990s rap and hip-hop fans know who this is without introduction. Dr. Octagon returned back to Earth’s musical orbit on April 6 for the first time in 22 years with the officially recognized follow-up album, Moosebumps: An Exploration into Modern Day Horripilation.
For anyone who doesn’t know better, Dr. Octagon is one of many rap identities created by Keith Matthew Thornton, aka Kool Keith, Dr. Dooom, or Keith Korg. Many fans have long believed Dr. Octagon had been killed off by Dr. Dooom in the 1999 album First Come, First Serve, while others have known of less successful returns─often dismissed by Kool Keith during interviews.
While Moosebumps maintains a consistent sound and style to the 1996 debut album, Dr. Octagonecologyst, the distinct value of Kool Keith’s lyrical prose comes forth in a way that’s often ahead of its time and capable of a figurative representation through the lens of science fiction. For example, in the 1996 track “Earth People,” Dr. Octagon raps about his identity in outer space, where he has green, silver, and blue skin—but back on Earth, “Upside down through polygons fighting pentagons, Changing blue skin, my brown colors coming back.”
In addition to the reoccurring horrorcore themes involving Western medicine and politics, mutant bodies, gore and extraterrestrial lifeforms, there’s also the signature porno-esque song samples scattered throughout Moosebumps, especially in the beginning part of the track “Area 54.” Because Dr. Octagon is also known for sexualizing women in fictional subservient roles, it’s hard to say what’s more controversial: a violent, metaphorical reflection of our healthcare system, or the hyper-sexualizing of taboo power structures within the system itself?
Dr. Octagon isn’t for everyone though, and even he will admit that. On April 7, Kool Keith made an appearance on the YouTube channel Sway’s Universe to discuss the new album, where he was joined by long-time producer Dan the Automator and his original album’s scratch master, DJQBERT. According to Dan, not everyone is supposed to get Dr. Octagon: “If you make music for everyone, who are you really making it for?”