Rapper Kool Keith is working on the second Dr. Octagon album without his former partner, now mega-producer Dan the Automator (Gorillaz, Beck). The album is due in February on Rockwell Recordings (an imprint of CMH Records) and is the follow-up to 1996's critically acclaimed Dr. Octagonecologyst (Bulk/DreamWorks), a psychedelic hip-hop concept album about a deadly, libidinous and doped-up doctor.
Sitting in a dilapidated building in downtown Los Angeles, where a photo shoot is about to begin, Keith avoids questions about exactly whom he is working with. "I made up the name [Dr. Octagon]. That was my group," he says, eyes hidden behind a yellow Kangol hat. "I chose to bring Automator in to work on the project. I gave Automator his introduction to the music industry, gave him his first start. With this [album], I will make another person and create another star."
Taking a more active role in the music and production of the as-yet-untitled album, Keith has finished his share of the work -- playing bass, guitar and keyboards on much of the material -- but the mysterious collaborators are yet to be determined, or, in some cases, confirmed.
"This album is fine-tuned with instruments, deeper and more spaced out," he says. "The last one was cool, but I didn't like it because it wasn't funky. When I don't work on a project, it's not that funky. When I do work on it, it's funky, and it has soul to it . . . I'm proud of my funky sounds right now."
Recording in Los Angeles, Dr. Octagon is now signed to the independent CMH Records, better known for tribute albums and bluegrass and country releases. "I chose to go with somebody that will take this as a creative project, not a marketing project," Keith explains. "Major labels tend to let inexperienced people oversee your projects. Your innovation goes down because they have [too much] input. You don't see anybody going into the studio to tell James Brown what to do. Even though he can adapt to certain things, nobody tells him how to sing. That's the way I feel about myself."
Kool Keith is also working on a solo album and an album with a group called KMH.