Kool Keith

“Our operators are masturbating right now, but your call has been placed in a bucket of stomach fluid and will be attended by a double-talking robot approximately 7,000 years from now.” Dr. Octagynecologist is not available; his intergalactic ecological gynecology practice is closed. There was an emergency call from planet Earth: very big turtles are waiting to be extracted from some very small uteruses, and the planet’s last surviving trees must be saved. “Using material for Christmas, papers get printed/ trees may get extinct like elephants.” An old, dear friend of the Doctor’s is suffering from a medical condition: “Don’t Worry Mz. Pop Music,” he comforts her through his space walkie-talkie while landing on the third planet, “I know you haven’t been well lately, but you’ve been stabilized for a long time.”

Dr. Octagynecologist, known in the yellow pages as Dr. Octagon, was born on Jupiter in the year 4,000 AD. Whenever a lost soul dials his number, he flies back from the future into the past with his bio-cybernetic spaceship. His first encounter with Earth took place in 1996 with the hip-hop album Dr. Octagon, through the rhymes of metaphysically and extraterrestrially gifted New York rapper Kool Keith. He and his crew, the Ultramagnetic MCs, had already sent out post-humanistic signals into interstellar space in the 1980s, when their completely electrolyzed break beats successfully left Earth music in the dust for good. From the future, Dr. Octagon could see that the Ultramagnetic MCs were far ahead of their time, and appointed Kool Keith as his official intergalactic gynecologist-psychic. Kool Keith then became one with the octophrenic identity of Dr. Octagon and can now cruise through the solar systems in his bio-cybernetic spaceship, relieving the suffering of their afflictions and pursuing his studies in galacto-ethno-zoology in between surgeries.


Deep down, Dr. Octagon is a xeno-biologist, an explorer of strange life forms. “Space is my place,” he says, quoting his extraterrestrial friend Sun Ra. Everyone on earth is thus alien to him; he is unable to separate men – “gorillas in their pick-up trucks” – from animals, dialectic animals though they are: “Ants / terrible looking / walking side to side like a work farm / some mean no harm / with the fire department, ring the alarm / ants work for America / some work for Saddam.”

Kool Keith’s most recent Dr. Octagon incarnation, The Return of Dr. Octagon, catalogues his latest xeno-biological studies. Since 1999, when he was attacked and defeated by the evil Dr. Dooom (another Kool Keith alias, another classic album), Octagon has been mistakenly presumed dead. But the good Doctor is very much alive. To confuse matters more, Kool Keith has simultaneously released a second new album under the name Mr. Nogatco – that’s “Octagon” backwards – and it’s a no less straightforward collection in its otherworldly obsessions (the accompanying video footage includes an alien autopsy). Still with us? Then maybe you should also consider Project Polaroid. This third essential 2006 release from Kool Keith confusingly mines very similar sonic terrain to the seminal original Dr. Octagon album.

“Ants / terrible looking / walking side to side like a work farm / some mean no harm / with the fire department, ring the alarm / ants work for America / some work for Saddam.”

The xeno-biological raps on the first Dr. Octagon records had minimalistic foundations, cooked up on mere human vinyl by spaceman scratch0-master Q-Bert like wet Earth bacon in an intergalactic frying pan. The Return of Dr. Octagon has replaced that minimalism to form an astral gesamtkunstwerk of against-the-flow xeno-musicological sound and rhythm, mixed into infinitely shape-changing constellations by the Berlin-based production trio One Watt Sun (Ben Green, Simon Walbrook, and John Lidland). Like Sisyphus, the listener can admire the worker ant via an electronscan microphone as he orbits the Earth on the symphonic wings of Egyptian singer Om Kalsoum into the bird’s eye view of world history. As one song groans under a lamenting arabesque, and crackling sequencer sounds leak from an Africa-Bambaataa-Memorial-Box, hermetically sealed for over three decades: welcome to Planet Rock.

Intergalactic space is full of hip-hop producers – namely, Neptunes and Timbaland – who may well have spent their youth watching Star Trek reruns and learning Vulcan vocabulary, only to then pimp the strangeness of the mainstream fringe into marketable sounds for sci-fi fans. Dr. Octagon is different; he is not science fiction, but the future itself.

“I don’t even feel like I’m a human being any more,” Kool Keith has said of his relationship with himself. “I feel I could put myself in the place of a mammal or an animal.” The rapper is on a quest for a connection between the species; he’s seeking a tree he can hug, an alien uterus to crawl into. As Kodwo Eshun once said, “It’s not schizophrenia nor quadrophrenia but octophrenia.” Dr. Octagon and Kool Keith are neither one being, nor two, but many – hopefully they are finally numerous enough to complete their mission to save everyone that needs to be saved: the uterus turtles, the trees, and us earthlings.


Related Content


    Dissed by a Nobel Prize winner, vindicated by the keepers of the holy grail of literature, spat on by the media elite: HELENE HEGEMANN was the enfant terrible Germany always wanted and finally got. More
  • Topheadz

    To them, work is gliding over the surface of the world – over water on a surfboard; through powder on a snowboard; above concrete on a skateboard. They always make sure to take enough of every drug, to avoid getting trapped between worlds. But skating takes them somewhere you can't go synthetically. They call themselves Topheadz, and they are traceable only by their bespoke hearts. KATE BELLM photographs the skate collective's amphibious protagonists.More
  • Anti-Ballet & Post Punk: MICHAEL CLARK Reflects on 30 Years of Choreography

    Once the enfant terrible of contemporary dance, choreographer MICHAEL CLARK is now celebrated for his untiring quest to break free from the restrictions of traditional ballet. Over the last three decades, he has collaborated with bands such as The Fall and artists such as Charles Atlas, and has become a pop icon in his own right. He has even won the approval of the Queen Elizabeth II, who will award Clark with a CBE this year. Clark speaks with JAN KEDVES about punk, working with MERCE CUNNINGHAM, and feelings about his recent commendation.More
  • Deeper

  • ALL A DAT ALL A DAT: Rap Crew 67 Can Make Anything

    Members ASAP, Monkey, LD, Dimzy, Liquez, and SJ are branching out. “67 can release rizla,” says LD ahead of the UK drill collective’s appearance this weekend in Berlin. “Not everybody can do that. A lot of people are just rappers.”More
  • 032c Resist Collection

    032c Resist Pin

  • David Ostrowski Brings Bauhaus to Warsaw’s Galeria Wschód

    The painter David Ostrowski has been off the radar for the last few years. A former student of Albert Oehlen and graduate of the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Ostrowski is best known for his large abstract paintings, which often include the use of spray cans and a formalistic approach to shape. Now he's back, with a new body of work and two shows – the first of which opens in Warsaw at the progressive gallery space Wschód this weekend.More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB Rugby Shirt Black

    Buy Now
  • Anders Haal and Nicole Walker Imagine Total Fluidity on Humanity’s Next Planet

    The late Stephen Hawking was convinced that humanity's time on Earth was coming to a close, and proposed Proxima Centauri b as a second planetary home. The transition off-world is one subject in a new fashion book by stylist Nicole Walker and Anders Haal, founder of Stockholm-based fashion label HAAL, that considers the illogic of borders on a cosmic scale. Here we preview the book's opening visual essay.More
  • 032c WWB Collection

    032c WWB “Chevignon by 032c” Cosmo Jacket Green

    Buy Now