Every once in while rap fans are treated to a collaboration between two established artists that draws attention to how insane it is that those two artists have never collaborated before. We just got that with the “Spaz”/”Good Stuff” 7” single by Dr. OctoTron, the sensibly named collaboration between Kool Keith (in his Dr. Octagon persona) and Del the Funky Homosapien (as Deltron 3030). Had this collaboration happened somewhere between 1997-2001, when both were at the peak of their sci-fi concept album phases, this would have been a landmark in the timeline of underground and experimental rap. Coming in 2013, however, it can’t help but feel late.
On both songs, Kool Keith sounds like Kool Keith in 2013, which isn’t exactly a good thing. The off-beat spoken rap thing that worked so well on his great string of nineties albums has devolved into just weak off-beat rapping, which is why none of Kool Keith’s recent albums have been all that worth listening to. He gives the off-beat thing a rest and actually raps like he did in the Ultamagnetic MC’s days on “Good Stuff,” but he kind of sounds tired and uninvested in what he’s doing. Del sounds better, but he’s far from his peak from over a decade ago. A good barometer of how these two sound these days is that Motion Man probably has the best verse on “Good Stuff.” If Del and Keith were still at their peak, Motion Man wouldn’t stand a chance. Really though, neither rapper sounds bad, but when they have albums like Dr. Octagonecologyst and Deltron 3030 under their belts, nothing less than heady, weird greatness will be satisfying. At least Kutmasta Kurt’s beats are great, but considering that Dan the Automator held down the boards for both artists’ best albums, it’s a little disappointing that he isn’t involved in their collaboration. And while his beats hold up, Kurt mixed the vocals way too low on both of these songs (which actually kind of helps to obscure the rappers’ slightly lackluster performances).
Regardless of my reservations and my outright criticisms, these aren’t bad songs by any stretch, and they’re worth having if you’re a fan of any of the artists involved. If this single is a harbinger of a full album to come, I’ll be eagerly awaiting it. I just hope they spend a bit more time making sure everything is up to the standard they’ve set for themselves. In the meantime, you can get the “Spaz” 7” or just go back and pick up First Come, First Served or Sex Style over at Threshold Recordings.