Tuesday, January 17, 2006

dr octagon part II and other purchases

like i mentioned yesterday, dr. octagon part II was a massive disappointment. kool keith has put out a number of lackluster albums in the past few years, so i didn't have particularly high hopes, especially after seeing the dreadful cover art, which looks like something you would see on a $3 mixtape you might buy out of someone's trunk in the parking lot outside the ludacris concert. but, trepidation aside, i bought the thing because it had the name "dr. octagon" on it. and that's also what makes the album so much more disappointing: it's not just mediocre, but it dishonors the name of one of keith's greatest achievements.

it turns out that it's not even a legit kool keith record. apparently it's a bootleg.

The album has been bootleged by 101 Distribution, in association with Real Talk Records and 33rd Street Records. The album has already been shipped and is in stores as of October 12th. It cannot be recalled. The album features 2 demos, 2 Clayborne Family tracks, and 6 INCOMPLETE tracks from the upcoming 7th Veil album. The cover of the album features Kool Keith standing in front of an Escalade, which he is not even down with. 101 Distribution, Real Talk, and 33rd Street are being sued for this release. According to Jacky Jasper, the official bootlegger is Michael Kinbrew (a.k.a. Scoobie) and his partner Damon Evans. Supposedely, these two have stolen records from Kurrupt and had false negotiation agreements with Kel of "Kenan and Kel" (Nickelodeon). HipHopSite.com has already recalled the album. Some albums have slipped through the cracks and made it into stores.

more on the dispute at allhiphop.

in a way that's reassuring, as at least keith himself isn't the one denigrating the dr. octagon name. but who can blame me or other fans for thinking this is the real thing, when keith himself said in multiple interviews that he was indeed working on a dr. octagon II? the cover art was crappy and amateurish, but not a far stretch from, say, the cover for matthew. steve "flash" juon at rap reviews summed it up nicely (emphasis mine):

"Dr. Octagon Part II" is decidedly hit or miss. Some tracks like "Take it Off" with Nancy Des Rose are fresh as hell, and "Star Wars" has a pleasant old school Ultramagnetic M.C.'s feel to it. Other songs like "Dr. Octagon 2" and "You Know You Want It" feature Keith trying on different personalities like baseball hats, but using underproduced beats or weak lyrical styles that make them interesting to only his most hardcore fans. Some would say "well that just proves the songs are bootlegs," but the curious thing is there are official albums like Keith's "Spankmaster that are in many ways weaker than this bootleg release. The widely varying quality of the beats doesn't speak to the legitimacy of a Kool Keith album one way or another, since that's often his trademark when he produces his own shit - and the same goes for the rhymes.

Even though this was reportedly culled from three or four different sources, including unfinished freestyles and tracks left off other projects, in the end you can't really tell the difference between this and a real Kool Keith album. The upside of that is that Kool Keith fans will in fact be satisfied if they do choose to cop this album, because they're used to him churning out lackluster albums between the true gems like "Lost in Space" and "Diesel Truckers." The downside of that is that if there's no difference quality-wise between a bootleg of your shit and the real thing, you need to step your game up. Keith is truly the most vexing MC in hip-hop - when he's on he's among the all-time best and when he's off he could qualify for the all-time worst. It's probably that very dichotomy that continues to make him a cult favorite - you never quite know what to expect. And due to his cult status among the underground and his iconic status due to his decades in hip-hop, it's no wonder someone would go after his shit to make a bootleg album in the first place. Stamp a name like "Dr. Octagon Part II" on it and the heads will say, "Crazy-ass Kool Keith has done it again - I gotta check this shit out." You know the score, you know what this really is, but ultimately it won't hurt Keith's career even if he doesn't make a dime on it.

fans can be forgiven for not realizing it's a bootleg and buying it, though like me they might be confused when they listen to the album and realize it has virtually nothing in common with the original octagonecologist, stylistically or thematically, and has no discernable references to the dr. octagon character except in one track title and one tagline on the packaging: "the doctor will feel you now."

in contrast, yesterday i also picked up a (used) copy of live from rome by sole and it's really good. solid. catchy, interesting beats. the rhymes have mad flow and offer thought-provoking insights into various subjects, some of which are very political. i really need to check out more stuff from anticon but for whatever reason i never do.

pablo's story of sampling, which i alluded to yesterday, is, as i surmised, a turntablism record. and it's pretty good, to my relief. the title track sounds at first like a fairly standard hip-hop track... until you realize that the vocals are in fact spliced together from countless different songs by countless mcs. these samples are intricately woven together so that they flow—and even rhyme—perfectly. the effect is much more pronounced on the "acapella" version of the track, and there's an instrumental there too. also included are three other tracks that are also pretty good, though the title track is the real winner here. (there appears to be an audio sample of the track on the label's website.)

kevin blechdom's eat my heart out is, on first listen, much what one would expect from a new kevin blechdom release: bizarre but generally well-produced pop songs with edgy, often very radio-unfriendly lyrics. true to the title, the songs tend to be about relationships and heartbreak (but there's also a song about a gopher and porcupine that she keeps in her pocket, so...). as a bonus, the cd has r-rated packaging, with more of the racy comics that blechdom fans will be familiar with, as well as photos of a topless kevin holding a handful of organs (presumably a heart) against her breasts (yes, kevin blechdom is a woman).

i mentioned i found jason forrest's lady fantasy ep, and of course that's pretty good. i also bought MIA's galang, and i knew that was good too. maybe even played out by this point, but i haven't done a whole lot of record shopping since last summer. (i didn't just buy it because of the honda commercial, i swear!) and that's everything i picked up yesterday: a relatively small haul for me.

update: damon evans of 101 productions emailed me recently to officially deny that 101 had anything to do with this release.

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