MF Doom, born Daniel Dumile, also known as Zev Love X, Viktor Vaughn, and The Masked Villain, among other monikers, is the underground favorite who broke big with Dangermouse as half of Danger Doom, the first rap crew named after Cartoon Network. A dubious distinction, to be sure, but like most else MF does, it worked. In an offbeat, give-it-a-chance-before-you-hate kinda way. Doom made schizophrenic attention to multiple rap personas cool long before Marshall Mathers, and for that he deserves a tribute here on this corner. If you’re not a rap fan, don’t bother with this post. But if you are, I hope you’ll find something you’ve never heard before. Something that makes you wanna go out and buy some DOOM!
Plus, I’m wearing his mask in the masthead above this blog.
Dumile began his career as Zev Love X, along with his brother, DJ Subroc and Onyx (no relation to the Slam! team), in the NYC group KMD. Early on, he caught the attention of MC Serch, who gave Zev a spot on “The Gas Face” off 3d Bass’ extraordinary debut, The Cactus Album. (Serch also broke Nas, by putting him on the Zebrahead soundtrack.)
KMD was soon picked up by Elektra and in 1991 the team released Mr. Hood, a minor hit featuring “Peachfuzz” and “Who Me?” It was part of the whole early 90s conscious rap explosion, promoting 5%-ers lingo (as did Professor Griff and Poor Righteous Teachers). Suddenly, in 1993, Subroc was killed in a car accident. KMD followed up with Bl_ck B_st_rds, an angry, militant record that alienated mainstream fans.
Could it have been due in part to the album art? Hmmmmmmm.
I admit, I’m not a huge fan of his part of his career.
Anyway,after that Zev disappeared until 1998. During his self-imposed exile from music, he claims to have been homeless and sleeping on Manhattan park benches. (Other accounts suggest he went home to Atlanta, where most believe he was born.) This part of his legend is essential, because it parallels Victor Von Doom’s exile into the mountains of Tibet, from which he emerged metal-masked and newly empowered. Much the same way, Dumile returned in 1998 with various masks performing at open mics and showing off his new skills until, in 1999, he exploded back with the independent release, Operation: Doomsday. If O:D isn’t the greatest rap album ever made, it’s definitely in the top ten. Featuring incredibly intricate (and darkly humorous) tracks like “?” (with Kurious), Dead Bent, and Gas Drawls, the album also represented the first wax track I’m aware of on which both Doom and Grimm appear together. Both MFs would go on to record together, with Doom taking the name King Geedorah, as the Monsta Island Czars (along with about a dozen other rappers).
At this point in his career, Doom started releasing tons of mixtapes, appeared on other folks’ records, and all the while released volume after volume of his DJ Special Special Herbs instrumental series. The beats there would be laid down under more mixtape vocal tracks than I count.
In 2003, Doom’s newest personality emerged, Viktor Vaughan. Vik released two records, Vaudeville Villain and Venomous Villain, both superb. In 2004, Doom joined Madlib to form Madvillain, for the great Madvillainy record. Within the same year came MF Doom’s second solo album, MMâ€¦ Food?, soon followed by MM … Leftovers.
Showing no signs of slowing down, he’s since then done the DangerDoom project (The Mouse and the Mask), appeared on singles with Ghostface, Talib, and others. He’s rumoured to have worked on a full album with Ghost, but it’s about as mythical as Jay-Z’s retirement.
Now check him out.
C is for his great Steely Dan instrumental, Calamus Root.
F is for Fig Leaf Bi-Carbonate-MF Doom.
G is for the Ghostface/Doom project. Let it out, guys!!! Guns N Razors-Ghostface, Trife, Cappadonna, and Killa Sin (Produced by MF Doom).
G is also for MF Grimm. After he got outta jail, Grimm and Doom had a public falling out, leading Grimm to produce this 6-minute instant classic dis track against Doom, Hide Behind the Mask. From Grimm’s much-slept-on double-album American Hunger.
I is for an example of how great the MFs could sound together. I Hear Voices MFs Doom and Grimm (KRomeleoN Mix).
J is for the Jose Gonzalez/MF Doom mash up My Favorite Ladies Remain-Dert.
N is for The Nitty Gritty Remix-KMD
N is also for The National Public Radio story about Doom.
R is for A Ridiculoid Melody-MF Doom
S is for the best use of a Scooby Doo sample in all of hip hop. Hey (Demo version)-MF Doom
V is for another video. The highly recommended, All Caps-Madvillain
W is for another instrumental, Wormwood-MF Doom.
And that’s it. I’m exhausted!