October 23, 2008

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Hip-hop’s champion eccentric, Kool Keith’s influence on the landscape of contemporary hip-hop is incalculable; everyone from Lil Wayne to MF Doom has either directly or indirectly paid homage to the man of a dozen guises — each tribute more spaced-out and surreal than the next.

On Dr. Dooom 2, Keith reprises the role of the gonzo, serial-killing physician he created for 1999’s First Come First Served. Like most sequels, Dr. Dooom 2 fails to live up to the heights of its predecessor. Keith has a tendency to run in circles, his non-sequitur raps having become almost formulaic in their absurdity. Keith’s decision to once again kill his Dr. Octagon persona doesn’t do him any favors — it’s the second time he’s done so in as many Dooom records.

Yet even at his most banal, Kool Keith remains more compelling than 95 percent of the off-kilter rappers he’s spawned. While more mundane MC’s might use American Idol as a lame punchline, Keith devotes the record’s opening cut (“Simon”) to a bizarre, hilarious rant about his hatred of Simon Fuller. Behind the boards, long-time collaborator Kut Masta Kurt supplies an impressive array of horror-core piano riffs and dive-bombing super hero strings. Those disappointed by Dr. Octagon 2 should be satisfied by Keith’s return to form — whatever form that is.

Download:
MP3: Dr. Dooom 2-“Simon”
MP3: Dr. Dooom 2-“Always Talkin’ Out Your Ass” (Which I’m partial to because Keith shouts out the LA Weekly and Village Voice)

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