Nogatco Rd. is Dr. Octagon spelled backwards. Dr. Octagon was, of course, a 1996 collaboration between Kool Keith and Dan the Automator (with an assist from DJ Q-Bert) that resulted in 1996’s truly brilliant Dr. Octagonecologyst LP.
The dynamic of Dr. Octagon was perfect. Automator’s intricately constructed paranoid space beats provided a perfect backdrop for Keith’s sex- and doo-doo-obsessed intergalactic raps. The result was an album that existed in its own world, an eccentric masterpiece totally lacking in calculation and self-consciousness.
Kool Keith and Dan the Automator never worked together again — their split was rumored to be acrimonious — and Dr. Octagon seemed destined to be a one-time project. And perhaps that was for the best. After all, lightning doesn’t strike twice.
Since the release of Dr. Octagonecologyst, Keith has done his best to undermine and destroy the “space rap” label that helped elevate the once (and future?) Ultramagnetic MC back into the spotlight after years of obscurity. When Dr. Octagon was booked as a second-stage act at Lollapalooza in 1997, Keith went missing for the entire tour. His 1999 Dr. Dooom LP opened with a skit in which Dooom violently kills Dr. Octagon. Keith’s more recent LPs (of which there are too many to count, really) are filled with vitriolic attacks against his predominantly white fans, many of whom continue to define him solely based on his Dr. Octagon persona.
But here we are at this juncture of space and time in which a sequel to Dr. Octagon has finally been released. And the big question that has to be asked here is, simply, Why? Did he want the higher profile that will come as a result of this project? Did he need the money? Has his well-documented contempt of his fan base progressed to the point where he truly does not give a fuck about his integrity? Because he didn’t need to do this. From Sex Style to Masters of Illusion to Analog Brothers to Matthew to Diesel Truckers (and on and on), Kool Keith has proven that he’s capable of producing music that is totally outside the realm of Dr. Octagon.
Nogatco Rd. is the Caddyshack II of hip-hop records, an abysmal follow-up to an undisputed classic. The album revolves around the mysterious “Mr. Nogatco,” an undercover agent who investigates alien life on Earth. But, apparently, Nogatco may be an alien himself. Or something like that. It doesn’t matter. The bulk of the album consists of Keith mumbling half-speed non-sequiturs, conveniently remembering to drop words such as “alien,” “planets” and “atoms” into the lyrics to remind the audience that this is a Dr. Octagon sequel. The unpredictability and all-encompassing weirdness of the original is all but gone. It’s hard to view Nogatco Rd. as anything but a cynical cash-in on what has unintentionally become an enduring brand.
The album’s lone bright spot is the production of frequent MF Doom collaborator Iz-Real, whose echoing, psychedelic-tinged beats are worthy of a more inspired project. The inevitable instrumental version of Nogatco Rd. will be a prime example of addition by subtraction.
Insomniac Records Web site