Every artist aspires to make timeless records, records that sound fresh and forward-thinking decades after their release. Few, however, outlast their era. With 1996’s Dr. Octagonecologyst, Kool Keith, Dan the Automator, and DJ Qbert defied accepted musical and temporal conventions. Setting their sights on the year 3000, they created a character, a sound, and a universe that forever redefined the imaginative limits of rap music.
The trio’s journey to the future began with a cross-country move. Following three seminal albums of bruising, intricate rhymes with Ultramagnetic MC’s, Kool Keith felt creatively stymied living in New York. Hoping for renewed inspiration, he decamped to Los Angeles. “California made me more open-minded, musically,” Keith says. “I was on Sunset Boulevard and it was wild: the girls, the pimps, the people. Sun, palm trees, going to clubs. It was all so spontaneous. It wasn’t like New York. Los Angeles was free-wheeling. Every night seemed like Saturday night.”
Galvanized by the impulsive hedonism he witnessed on the west coast, Keith recorded “Dr. Octagon” with his roommate, DJ/producer KutMasta Kurt. On this cassette-only reference demo, Keith birthed his no
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