October 8, 2008

Dr. Dooom - First Come, First Served (May 4, 1999) vs. My Gut Reaction: Dr. Dooom - Dr. Dooom 2 (September 23, 2008)


Kool Keith has a problem with success. While his old rap crew, the Ultramagnetic MCs, was always met with critical acclaim, nobody every really bought their albums, and the group was always referred to in an indifferent "rap pioneer" way, never specifically mentioned as a focal point or as a direct influence, and I have a feeling Keith Thornton liked it that way just fine. So when he went solo and started recording under multiple aliases, he was expecting more of the same: a small, cult-like fan base that would allow him to rhyme about whatever the fuck he wanted, while the media mostly stayed away.

The problem started when Kool Keith paired up with Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, DJ Q-Bert, and producer Kutmasta Kurt for a project called Dr. Octagon. Keith would play the title character, an alien gynecologist who rapped about sex and had a thing for mating random animals. The premise sounded ridiculously stupid and could only possibly appeal to stoners and alien gynecologists. However, The Automator's production took the project to an entirely different level musically: the shit was good. Hell, some of it was fucking brilliant. Because of this (and the fact that Keith's rhymes were some of his most potent in years), Dreamworks Records bought the album, retitled it Dr. Octagonecologyst, and released it at a national level. Dr. Octagon videos began to play on MTV, and stories started appearing in magazines such as The Source, Spin, and Rolling Stone. Uncomfortable with all of the attention, Keith retreated back into the underground, and he took his friend Kutmasta Kurt with him.

Together, Keith and Kurt, Keith's musical soulmate, created a new character, Dr. Dooom, a doctor in name only. He seemed to specialize in serial killing and hating rap music in general. Released on Kurt's label, Threshold Recordings, Dr. Dooom's debut album, First Come, First Served, begins with the death of Dr. Octagon, and spirals out of control from there. Critics hailed the disc and praised the fact that it sounded like the polar opposite of Dr. Octagonecologyst: it sounds so different, in fact, that at times it's hard to determine if the rapper is the same guy from the other project.

First Come, First Served (which has one of the creepiest Pen & Pixel album covers ever, which is a compliment to the company that was responsible for all of Master P's No Limit album covers) sold hardly any copies, did not receive any mainstream attention, and is considered a masterpiece by Kool Keith stans. I've mentioned in the past (okay, within the past couple of weeks) that there are some really good moments on this disc, but does that translate into a fun listening experience?

Well, does it?


1. WHO KILLED DR. OCTAGON? (INTRO)
That "Dr. Octagon-ass motherfucker", with a more effeminate voice than usual, is laid to rest with two shots from Dr. Dooom. (That fact will become more important later, so jot it down.) The classical music that plays during this rap album intro (which, admittedly, is anything but average) is a nice touch, as it actually somehow relates to Dr. Octagonecologyst.

2. NO CHORUS
Keith claims that the name of the track is actually "I Don't Want The Motherfucking Chorus". I suppose it really doesn't matter, though. Ultimately, the creation of this angry track was a roundabout way for Kool Keith to diss Nas (or, at least, Nasir's character in the video for his own "Street Dreams"). This doesn't necessarily mean that Nas actually did something to deserve this hatred, mind you: that's just how Kool Keith rolls this week. (The liner notes also advertise a newer Keith alias named Robbie Analog, an obvious potshot at The Rza's Bobby Digital moniker.)

3. APARTMENT 223
Not quite horrorcore, but very close, especially with Keith tossing out graphic depictions of murder as if he were handing out candy on a playground. (Scratch that: actually, the idea of someone tossing out candy at a playground, especially someone as creepy as this particular Kool Keith persona, is even more fucking scary.) Kurt's beat serves as the perfect accomplice to Dr. Dooom's homicidal tendencies.

4. MR. RATT (SKIT)
This skit is pretty stupid, but I have to know: what does Keith do with the chicken in the background? What does he do?!?!

5. NEIGHBORS NEXT DOOR (FEAT JACKY JASPER)
Kurt's beat is alright, but I was more impressed with Keith's declaration that he was "going to Tower Records to get a pizza" than I was with the entirety of Jacky Jasper's contribution.

6. I RUN RAP
Ghostface Killah makes an admirable effort, but nobody can really fuck with Kool Keith when it comes to non sequiturs in rap songs. The chorus brings us the couplet "I'm the man of the hour/Watching girls taking a shower", which has nothing to do with the fucking song, which is about neither being the man of the hour nor women in general. The beat starts off pretty shitty, but once Keith starts rhyming, Kurt tosses some adjustments our way that help the medicine go down.

7. YOU LIVE AT HOME WITH YOUR MOM
This was the first song leaked from this project. The only part that I like occurs during the intro, where Keith explains that, during a night out, "I've seen...exaggeration", which sounds more abstract than even he deserves. The element of this song that I hate the most is the distorted vocal effect that also serves as the source of the title for the song. That effect takes a merely crappy song into "godawful" territory.

8. HOUSING AUTHORITY (FEAT MOTION MAN)
Motion Man is the only one of Kool Keith's cronies that actually deserves a career of his own. He and Keith bounce off one another well, and Kutmasta Kurt's beat has the immediacy of an action-packed television program from the 1970s, which is to say, it's really fucking good.

9. WILD KINGDOM (SKIT)
...

10. WELFARE LOVE
Ostensibly a song for the ladies, Keith hijacks his own fucking premise to tell (possibly autobiographical) tales of growing up in the Bronx. Love doesn't even really factor into the song until maybe the outro. Oh, misleading song titles, you've got me again!

11. DR. DOOOM'S IN THE ROOM
Already this track doesn't work, because Keith proclaims that Doom is from Houston, Texas, when only three tracks ago, on "Housing Authority", he said that Dooom hailed from the Bronx. This song kind of sucks the balls.

12. CALL THE COPS (FEAT JACKY JASPER)
Here's another Kurt instrumental that demands that its rappers take action now. Keith is up to the task (although his intro is a bit confusing: is he supposed to be talking to himself when he talks about "Keith" and his jheri curls?), but, once again, Jacky Jasper, weed carrier extraordinaire, fails to keep me interested, let alone impress. Motion Man would have destroyed this shit. Still, this track isn't bad.

13. BROTHERS FEEL FLY
Meh.

14. SIDE LINE
This actually sounds like an outtake from Kool Keith's major label effort Black Elvis/Lost In Space, which was released later in 1999. I mean that in the worst possible way.

15. BITCH GETS NO LOVE
This shit is a masterpiece of misogyny, and the beat rocks. Even I will admit that there isn't much redeeming value to this shit, though.

16. SHOPPING LIST (SKIT)
...

17. BODY BAG
Keith (finally) slips back into his mass-murdering Dr. Dooom persona (as opposed to Dr. Dooom, the disgruntled rapper, who appears on the majority of First Come, First Served), but at this point, it isn't even close to shocking: it's actually really dull.

18. MENTAL CASE
Look past the fact that the hook is awful, and you'll find that this song is bizarrely entertaining. Some of the imagery is disturbing (and would never make it onto a major label album), but some of it is also pretty funny. I also find it interesting that Keith is the only rapper that has ever used the term "transvest" in a verse, and as an added bonus, he actually uses the slang term correctly.

19. LEAVE ME ALONE
Keith has only done this a handful of times, but I personally love it when he writes about his viewpoint as an outsider in the music industry, especially when he uses real-life examples to illustrate his point (he claims that he made $40,000 to write "Diesel Power" with The Prodigy, which only took him three minutes: he discusses how his handling of his finances is better than most rappers: he also shoots down an opportunity (if that's the right word to use) to work with Insane Clown Posse). It's kind of like watching a no-name actor's version of Entourage.

20. LIVE
I never cared for this track, as it sounds incomplete. Kutmasta Kurt may have planned to add a melody at some point, but was forced to rush the mastering of First Come, First Served to meet the release date.

The following is an unlisted bonus track that appears following "Live".

UNTITLED BONUS TRACK
Around the five minute and nine second mark, we're treated to what is commonly referred to by Kool Keith fans as "Bald Headed Girl", which is a fitting, and inappropriate, way to end this strange listening experience.

FINAL THOUGHTS: First Come, First Served is a mostly entertaining alternative to the hip hop norm. Kool Keith/Dr. Dooom has certainly never catered to the masses, and although his irreverent tendencies bite him in the ass more often than not, on this project he is kept in line (so to speak) by Kutmasta Kurt's beats, which are almost consistently stellar. The subject matter (and the actual artist, to be honest) isn't for all tastes, but if you're willing to stomach a rapper rhyming about ridiculous shit in a somewhat intelligent manner, you may dig this album.

BUY OR BURN? Kool Keith's fans already own this one, but for those of you two that have an appreciation of off-the-cuff rhymes against some genuinely good instrumentals, you may want to pick this one up. Don't play this shit in front of your great-grandmother, though: your ass will be erased from the will with the quickness.

BEST TRACKS: "Bitch Gets No Love"; "Housing Authority"; "Leave Me Alone"; "Mental Case"; "Apartment 223"; "Call The Cops"







The first Dr. Dooom album came out in 1999. Since then, we have been subjected to no less than two separate attempts at resuscitating Dr. Octagon. The first, Dr. Octagon Part II, was an unauthorized disc that was pulled from shelves almost as soon as it was unpacked. I always found the move questionable considering the sheer amount of music Keith has available at any given time, but apparently this disc was truly evidence of wrongdoing, since the producer, Fanatik J, set the songs free without the thumbs-up by Dr. Octagon himself. The second one was official: The Return Of Dr. Octagon was released in 2006 on OCD Records, turning Kool Keith's alien gynecologist rapper into some random guy who spits lyrics (oddly, the same lyrics from Fanatik J's project) over beats that are less hip hop than they are electronica-tinged. Needless to say, fans weren't happy with either incarnation.

Neither was Keith.

Keith was very sore that Dr. Octagon kept haunting him, probably because these two projects were released in such a manner that he didn't receive any fucking royalties. (He obviously recorded the songs, but objected to their use on these albums because of the name on the albums? That doesn't sound right.) He saw only one way out, and his partner in crime Kutmasta Kurt felt the same way. This is how Dr. Dooom 2 was born. It was released a couple of weeks ago on Threshold Recordings once again, and Kurt produced every song, save for one, "The God Of Rap", which was brought to us by TomC3, whom Keith paired up with on the Project Polaroid album.

As long I'm not subjected to any Jacky Jasper cameos, I think we'll be alright.

1. SIMON
Starts off as a diatribe against American Idol in general and Simon Cowell in particular (hence the title), but before you get concerned that this is what Keith has resorted to writing about, he quickly strays off topic and attacks random fakeness in hip hop, which seems to be his modus operandi. Kurt's beat is somewhat interesting, but even Keith sounds somewhat bored by his own rhymes, which is odd, considering that this track contains some of his most hip hop-esque lines in years.

2. THE COUNTDOWN
Keith mentions carrying Dr. Octagon's coffin while going to meet "Dan", presumably Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, the main producer of Dr. Octagonecologyst and one of the best music producers ever, who, like Keith himself, had jack and shit to do with the Dr. Octagon sequels, both authorized and unauthorized. Dan and Keith really need to bury whatever bloody hatchet they have and work together again: at least Keith would get better promotion at college radio that way.

3. R.I.P. DR. OCTAGON
This was the first single and video (a clip that I still think is brilliantly B-movie creepy) from Dr. Dooom 2, and it features Keith expressing his disgust that Octagon was still alive (thanks to critics and record labels constantly saving him from the brink of death (yeah, because that makes sense)) even after taking two shots to the chest, so he opts to flat-out murderize his ass using methods such as drowning, multiple stab wounds, electrocution, etc. I understand that he's upset about the character living on without Keith having full creative control, since he was the creator of Dr. Octagon, but why the fuck is he so mad that he just so happened to create an album that was somewhat successful? There are worse things in this world, Keith. I did appreciate how the video makes a slight-but-powerful reference to the album cover from The Return Of Dr. Octagon, though.

4. I'M CREEPIN'
The sadistic Dr. Dooom finally returns (murdering Dr. Octagon eighty-nine different ways doesn't really count), and Keith sounds alright, I suppose, even though his flow suggests that he's not up for rapping as he was in the past (his flow on Dr. Dooom 2 is noticeably slower than it ever has been before). His line about eating a peanut butter sandwich while wearing three different shirts is both funny and fucking absurd.

5. I FOLLOWED YOU
Although Keith's hooks have never been his strong suit, this track isn't bad. The idea of Dr. Dooom stalking people is infinitely creepier than having him chop bodies up and wheel the parts around in a shopping cart.

6. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE (FEAT FATHED)
If you left off the guest rapper (who isn't very good, although he does pull off the theme better than Jacky jasper did) and deleted the reference to The Backyardigans, "Run For Your Life" would be one of the lesser tracks from First Come, First Served. Which is to say, it's not completely horrible.

7. STEP-N-FETCHERS
This is actually not bad. Keith's attempt at a Bamboozled-type social commentary is (somewhat) successful, and Kurt's beat is awesome, relatively speaking. Elements of the second verse derail this train almost completely, though. For those of you playing at home, give this song a spin and see if you can figure out what I'm talking about.

8. THE GOD OF RAP
TomC3's beat is the best one so far, sounding completely different from any of Kurt's work on this disc. Keith actually sounds like he could be one of the most influential figures in hip hop, as opposed to the character he simply plays on TV. Dr. Dooom 2 is actually more entertaining that I had expected.

9. HOW SEXY (FEAT DENIS DEFT)
A sadistic serial killer writing a song for the ladies? Sure, why the fuck not? Kurt's beat is not bad at all: an instrumental album may need to become a reality, Threshold Recordings representatives. The rhymes are all inane, but the beat somehow overrides all of those concerns.

10. THAT GIRL IS A MONSTER
I found this track to be considerably boring. You don't hear enough rappers referencing The Wizard of Oz in their rhymes, though.

11. DO NOT DISTURB
The drum machine tries its best to emulate the minimalism that makes up most of the shitty songs from the South, and it succeeds, in that it sounds just as terrible. Keith does try to rhyme as fast as the beat, though, which means that he almost raps as fast as he used to normally, which is a nice alternative.

12. TAKE THAT RIDE
Kurt abandons the 1970s action-packed hourlong dramas and provides a beat that could double as incidental music for a 1970s cop show. Never thought that I would ever hear Kool Keith reference Rick Ross, of all people, in song, but here you go. Huh.

13. MOPPED UP
This is pretty fucking good, although Keith chides journalists that dare to compare this disc to the first Dr. Dooom project. Specifically, he says "Fuck you", which is also aimed towards myself, I suppose, since I'm literally comparing the two albums right now. (Um, Keith, if you didn't want anybody to compare this disc to the last one, you might have avoided calling this one Dr. Dooom 2. Just a thought.) The beat is kind of creepy, Keith's rhymes are effective (to say the least), and the chorus is both good and fucking hilarious.

14. ALWAYS TALKIN' OUT YOUR ASS
This beat is awesome. Keith's obsession with singing his own hooks is frustrating, but it's not a deal-breaker. Keith's newfound slower flow actually meshes perfectly with Kurt's creepy, crawling, and yet melodic, instrumental.

15. SURGERY (FEAT MOTION MAN)
Finally, a guest spot from (a) a rapper that people have heard of before, and (b) someone that isn't Jacky Jasper. This would have been blasphemous for me to say nine years ago, but today this shouldn't be surprising: Motion Man runs fucking laps around his former mentor, almost begging for another Masters Of Illusion project to come to fruition. We'll see if Keith responds in kind. Referencing Shields and Yarnell in a rap song is very unexpected as well: nicely played, Thornton.

THE LAST WORD: Keith told me personally (through song) that he doesn't want me comparing Dr. Dooom 2 to First Come, First Served. Well, too fucking bad: Dr. Dooom 2 is the lesser album. Just barely, though. Although Keith sounds, at times, completely uninterested with the idea of being back in the booth, and his slower flow only exacerbates the issue, Kutmasta Kurt, the project's affable leader, provides a challenging and ultimately highly enjoyable soundtrack, which somehow makes Keith's rhymes sound even better. I would recommend Dr. Dooom 2 to Kool Keith fans only, but seeing as those folks would be the only people that would purchase this anyway, this sentence is a waste of my time. Curious listeners shouldn't use Dr. Dooom 2 as a Kool Keith primer, but as a whole, it's surprisingly good.

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Read up on some other Kool Keith projects by clicking here.

10 comments:

  1. Mr. AquariusOctober 08, 2008

    This was sweet. Caught me by surprise.

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  2. idk but i think kool keith lost his mind after leaving UM mcs IMO

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  3. VERY nice writeup. I personally have avoided anything and everything by this overrated rapper. Even his song on Prince of Thieves gets the "next" each and every time. But after reading this, I feel very satisfied that I have not wasted away countless minutes listening to these albums. Appreciate that!

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  4. jacky jasper AKA HDV, a one-hit-wonder Toronto rapper.
    doubt he was a weed carrier for a rapper who doesn't smoke weed.....but I guess when you don't feel like Wiki'ng a guest MC you can jus call em weed carriers.
    (just playing witcha...keep the posts coming, it makes my shift go by faster)

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  5. what??? HDV??? hahahahahaha I havent herad ffrom that fool since P.I.M.P. Pimp! of the microphone! hahahahah man i almost shit my pants laughing!

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  6. cenzi you talk shit.... go listen new wu tang garbage album...

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  7. Fanatik didn't have anything to do with the "Dr Octagon Part 2" fiasco. One of his demos was boosted and ended-up on the album.
    The only people that had that rough demo track were CMH and Keith's peeps. I bet it was D Money that ran that hustle.

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  8. i checked out "i run rap" on youtube and incaperseverance said "This shit is wild I think the song is based on being in jail and getting fucked by Kool Keith LOL!" if you think about then the "watching girls taking a shower" kinda would make sense! assuming the other guys are "girls"...

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  9. Dr. Octagon, producer Fanatik-J, Washington Post-Print Edition:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/25/AR2006082501297.html

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    Replies
    1. http://www.courthousenews.com/2007/12/31/New_Complaints.htm

      Fanatik-J Lawsuit News

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