Dr. Octagon

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Dr. Octagon
Dr. Octagon.gif
The image used by CMH Records in its promotion of The Return of Dr. Octagon.
First appearanceDr. Octagonecologyst
Last appearanceMoosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation
Created byKeith Thornton
Portrayed byKeith Thornton
In-universe information
OccupationGynecologist and surgeon.

Dr. Octagon is a persona created and used by American rapper Keith Matthew Thornton, better known as Kool Keith. First appearing on Thornton's 1996 debut solo album, Dr. Octagonecologyst. The album examines the impersonal/delusional/authoritarian aspects of institutions/bureaucracies using the general hospital and psych ward as main metaphor. The hyper-love of new technologies is also a theme. Thornton performed and released two albums under the alias. The character was murdered by Dr. Dooom on Thornton's 1999 album First Come, First Served, and was briefly revived before once again being killed on Thornton's 2008 album Dr. Dooom 2, in response to the release of The Return of Dr. Octagon, an album largely produced without Thornton's involvement. Kool Keith reunited with Dan the Automator and DJ Qbert to release Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation on April 6, 2018.[1]


The earliest instance of Thornton's Dr. Octagon character appears on the unreleased Ultramagnetic MC's demo "Smoking Dust", recorded in 1993 and included in the 1994 compilation album The Basement Tapes 1984-1990. On this demo, Thornton refers to himself as "Doctor Oc" and raps in a deeper cadence, with lyrics that intertwine grotesque pornographic imagery with science-fiction.[2]

Thornton and KutMasta Kurt recorded two songs under the alias Dr. Octagon, "Dr. Octagon" and "Technical Difficulties."[3] Thornton mailed the songs to radio stations as a teaser, as well as giving copies to several DJs, as well as producer Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, resulting in the production of Dr. Octagonecologyst.[3] The album was recorded in Automator's studio in the basement of his parents' San Francisco home.[4] Dr. Octagonecologyst featured the work of turntablist DJ Qbert and additional production by KutMasta Kurt. An instrumental version of the album was released under the title Instrumentalyst (Octagon Beats).[5] KutMasta Kurt later pursued legal action against Automator because Kurt's demos had initiated the project. Kurt told the AV Club, “I got the whole [Dr. Octagon] thing started and really got nothing directly out of it. [Automator] ran with it, but he never gave credit to the person who threw the ball. At the end of the day, I actually had to sue the guy."[6]

In promotion of the album, Thornton toured under the Dr. Octagon billing. These performances featured a full live band, an on-stage breakdancer and appearances by Invisibl Skratch Piklz.[7] Nakamura has referred to Dr. Octagon as a three-person group rather than an alias of Thornton,[8] and these claims were reported by the press.[9]

Thornton later expressed some frustration with the "Dr. Octagon" nickname, saying, "Octagon wasn't my life...I've done a lot of things that were totally around different things other than Octagon. Are some people just afraid to venture off into my life and see that I do other things which are great? I think people stuck me with something."[10]

In 2002, Thornton announced The Resurrection of Dr. Octagon, a proposed sequel to Dr. Octagonecologyst, that would reintroduce the character.[11] Los Angeles-based producer Fanatik J was chosen to create the music for the album.[3] Thornton himself took part in the production of early material for the project, playing bass, guitar, and keyboards on many of the tracks.[12]

After shopping around demos for the proposed album, Thornton signed a contract with CMH Records to release the album.[3] On July 23, 2002, Rolling Stone reported that a new Dr. Octagon album would be released in February 2003.[12] As production on the album was underway, Thornton had a falling out with Fanatik J over contract rights, and the One-Watt Sun production team was hired to create the album's music.[3] After completing three vocal tracks with the label, based upon rough sonic themes created by the production team, Thornton had a falling out with the label, and gave the label recordings he had made two years previously, consisting of Thornton rapping and goofing off, in order to complete his contract. The resulting album, The Return of Dr. Octagon, was largely produced without Thornton's involvement, and did not resemble the direction Thornton had initially intended for the album.[3]

Promotional materials, including music videos, were produced without Thornton's involvement. Thornton states that he was "shocked" by the label's misrepresentation.[3] Following the release of the album, Thornton performed under the Dr. Octagon billing, but did not promote the album.[13] Dr. Dooom 2, Thornton's 2008 follow-up to First Come, First Served, was produced in response to The Return of Dr. Octagon.[10] In the music video for "R.I.P. Dr. Octagon", the appearance of Dr. Octagon resembles the character design used in promotional materials by CMH Records.[14]

In 2013, Dr. Octagon made a guest appearance on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs song "Buried Alive", which was featured on their album Mosquito.

Once again performing as Dr. Octagon, Kool Keith reunited with Dan The Automator and DJ Qbert to release Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation on Bulk Recordings.[1] The album was released on streaming services on April 6, 2018,[15] with the physical release scheduled for Record Store Day,[16] April 21, 2018. The Record Store Day release includes both vinyl and CD copies. Using his Deltron persona, Del the Funky Homosapien guests on "3030 Meets the Doc, Pt. 1". NPR offered a first look at the album on March 29, 2018.[17]


Studio albums


  1. ^ a b Mojica, Nick. "Dr. Octagon Drop New Album 'Moosebumps'". xxlmag.co. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ Ultramagnetic MC's – Smoking Dust, retrieved 2020-08-28
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Downs, David (September 27, 2006). "Kool Keith CD Scam Exposed". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  4. ^ Coleman, Brian. Check the Technique: Volume 2: More Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies. Wax Facts Press.
  5. ^ McLeod, Kembrew. "Review of The Instrumentalyst (Octagon Beats)". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  6. ^ David, Downs. "Kool Keith and KutMasta Kurt". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Kool Keith gets freaky as Dr. Octagon". Synthesis. May 30, 1997. Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  8. ^ Downs, David (October 25, 2006). "Dashed Hoop Dreams". East Bay Express. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  9. ^ Kot, Greg (June 27, 1997). "Back to the Future: Dr. Octagon looks to the past to cure hip-hop". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 January 2009.
  10. ^ a b Downs, David (November 21, 2008). "Kool Keith and KutMasta Kurt". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  11. ^ Goodman, Abbey (April 5, 2002). "All The Voices In Kool Keith's Head Working On New Albums". MTV News. Retrieved 13 December 2008.
  12. ^ a b Moayeri, Lily (July 23, 2002). "Kool Keith Revives Dr. Octagon". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 22 February 2008. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  13. ^ Godfrey, Sarah (August 26, 2006). "Kool Keith's Bits & Pieces". The Washington Post. p. C08. Retrieved 19 January 2009.
  14. ^ Kool Keith (July 29, 2008). R.I.P. Dr. Octagon (music video). Threshold Records. Event occurs at 1:41. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  15. ^ Berry, Peter. "DR. OCTAGON PLOT 'MOOSEBUMPS' ALBUM, DROP NEW SONG "OCTAGON OCTAGON"". xxlmag.com. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Dr. Octagon - Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation Deluxe". recordstoreday.com. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  17. ^ Wang, Oliver. "Kool Keith And Dan The Automator Make Rap Weird Again As Dr. Octagon". npr.org. Retrieved 18 April 2018.

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