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Mr. Nogatco - Nogatco Rd. Review
See? It's a completely new project.
Kool Keith is the Billy Corgan of hip-hop. There. I've said it. What makes Kool Keith the equivalent of Billy Corgan when there are so many other washed up hip-hop acts to choose from to be deemed Corganlike? That's simple, because like Corgan, Kool Keith used to be good. In fact, Kool Keith used to be great until he slid down into tired repetition, strange bitterness, half-baked unmemorable projects and characters, and finally a return to Dr. Octagon this year. Just like Corgan languished with that shitfest known as Zwan and self-indulgent fuckwaddery that is his solo career until he finally broke down and reunited the Pumpkins. Also, Corgan needed the band to make himself look good by comparison [that's really the only reason D'Arcy was even put in the band] and in my opinion, Kool Keith's best work was with Dan the Automator. Since both have been separated from their better half, the work has suffered. This album by Kool Keith that I should probably get to reviewing is Nogatco Rd. To our less astute readers, yes, the album title is Dr. Octagon spelled backwards. If this is a sign of the creativity involved, it does not bode well.
Kool Keith: "God, I hate my fans. Bunch of crackers who don't like my shittier music. But then again, I like money, as shown by my several attempts to throw out shit in hopes of people buying it. I know! I'll bring back Dr. Octagon, but in the kraaaaaazy Kool Keith zany format - Dr. Octagon...only backwards! Those fucking whitey fans will be forced to buy it, no matter how shitty it is! Muhahahahahaha!"
Yes, Kool Keith has been a bitter man in the past 10 years, hating the success that Dr. Octagon brought him and hating the white fans who like him because of Dr. Octagon. He hates record companies for being white, he hates his white fans, he hates the success that surrounded Dr. Octagon, he apparently hates Dan the Automator now, he hates everything. One thing he DOESN'T hate, however, is money. He loves money. Such explains why this project existed in the first place: to make money. Why else would he make a half-baked sequel to Dr. Octagon if he wasn't in it just for cash and name recognition ["It's a sequel to Octagon, only, like, spelled BACKWARDS"]? Apparently no matter what color the people buying his shit is, they always give Kool Keith green and that's really what counts.
Like the original Dr. Octagon, Mr. Nogatco is definitely a concept album. Whether that concept appeals to you, I'll let you be the judge of your own tastes and preferences. Nogatco is a man who investigates alien life on Earth, but he might also be an alien. He says words that sound space-y as evidence of this. That's the concept and it's not a very good one in my opinion, at least compared to the time-traveling murderous but totally incompetent gynecologist who molests his patients. The best Kool Keith albums are ones that feature defined quirky personalities like Dr. Octagon and Dr. Dooom, and his worst is humdrum shit like this. As a sequel to Dr. Octagon, or at least a quasi-sequel, it is a failure as it does not live up to the concept of the original. Instead of being funny and weird, Mr. Nogatco is weird to the extent that it's mysterious but I don't care enough to solve the mystery. Sci-fi snippets, B movies, incidental dialogue, yawn, still don't care.
Onto the actual thing I'm reviewing, the music. There's not much to say about the music, really, because all in all Nogatco Rd. is a rehash of a rehash. If you combine Dr. Octagonacologyst's space rap and bizarre references, with the "I'm tired of doing this shit but I need some money" feeling that Keith has exuded for the past 5 years of his 'career', you have Nogatco Rd.. Everything sounds basically the same. It was very hard determining any unique aspects to any particular song, save the ones with guest vocals. You've got your space words, your scatological references, your downright confusing lines that make absolutely no sense - it's Kool Keith by numbers on a CD by numbers with production by numbers. The final track on Nogatco Rd. strangely features Sole of Anticon. Strangely in that Sole, and Anticon as a whole, really does not mix well with hip-hop that is not also from the Anticon stable. I like Sole and I like Anticon but even I struggle to classify them as 'hip-hop'. It's avant garde at best, and thus it doesn't fit at all. Tired rapper + weird pseudo-hip-hop artist = not a good track. This really encapsulates the entire project - elements that don't mix together result in it failing.
It's quite obvious that Kool Keith is bored doing this, throwing in his usual weirdo space rap shtick and not straying far from it and never sounding like he's into the music or the lyrics he's reciting off the page. This is a bitter drama queen that has spent every release since Dr. Octagon basically saying "Fuck Dr. Octagon. Watch me be successful and acclaimed without that shit"...and failing. Now he's back just for cash and rehashes his old style again and again, which, while it may have been fresh and fun a decade ago, is just sad and kinda pathetic now. Here he throws out words like 'atoms' and 'space' in the hopes of repigeonholing himself in that pigeonhole he wanted desperately to get out of way back when people actually bought his shit. It's lazy, uninspired crap.
The beats are nothing special [or anything good], and even if I liked the rapping on the album I wouldn't recommend Nogatco Rd. because producer Iz-Real is trying really hard to be like Dan the Automator's excellent work from the previous album...but failing badly. Very badly. If you'll remember, he was also the amateur joker who tried to make Venomous Villain into something good with only 9 minutes of MF DOOM and failing miserably. At least that album had the luxury of keeping its pain to my ears to about half an hour; this one lasts a bad 45 minutes.
Dr. Octagon's importance cannot be overstated. It was and still is one of the most important underground hip-hop albums ever produced and it opened doors for more work like it, work that didn't have to be close to the pulse of the mainstream. This? This is shit. It's like if after an unsuccessful flop of a film, Kevin Smith made a sequel to his most beloved movie, Clerks,...which he d- well, you get the picture anyway. Not only is the sequel shit, it diminishes the greatness of the original, as now when I pop in the good Doctor, I cannot help but think of the trainwreck of a career that Kool Keith has subjected himself to in the subsequent years. I recommend this only to hardcore Kool Keith fans, and after all the shit he's tried to shovel into the mouths of his base as well as consistently saying he hates them [for Christ's sake, he wrote a diss track directed at his own forum], the number of hardcore Kool Keith fans is zero. Even the bootleg Dr. Octagon II is better.