There’s no way the team at FUXWITHIT can call ourselves Champions of the Underground without honoring MF DOOM. While a supervillain in his rhymes, he was a hero of hip-hop, carrying the underground on his back for the last two decades. MF DOOM changed the landscape of rap in both production and lyricism through his sonic streams of consciousness and simple, yet effective, beats. Not even a mask or stand-in performer could hide the legacy MF DOOM left in music. And there’s no doubt his discography will inspire MCs and producers for generations and generations to come. We wanted to take some time and honor him by looking back at his life and most notable works.
Living off borrowed time, the clock tick faster
That’d be the hour they knock the slick blaster
Dick Dastardly and Muttley with sick laughter
A gun fight and they come to cut the mixmaster
I-C-E cold, nice to be old
Y2G stee twice to threefold
He sold scrolls, lo and behold
Know who’s the illest ever like the greatest story told
Keep your glory, gold and glitter
DANIEL DUMILE AKA MF DOOM, ‘ACCORDION’
Who is MF DOOM?
MF DOOM is your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. The London-born, New York-based artist went across the pond at a young age, performing at open mics while wearing a mask since the late ’90s. But his career didn’t start there. In 1988, he formed a rap group KMD with his younger brother, DJ Subroc, as well as a third member, Onyx the Birthstone Kid. During this time, DOOM performed under another alias, Zev Love X. The trio only lasted a few years and disbanded after DJ Subroc’s passing in 1993. Seven years later, he adopted the legendary MF DOOM moniker with the release of his debut album, Operation: Doomsday and throughout his career as the supervillain, he continued to honor his brother’s life.
His stage name coming from Marvel’s Doctor Doom was a prime example of how in tune the musician was in various subcultures. He wasn’t shy to share his love of knowledge through his storytelling. Not married to just one persona, he played different characters, such as Viktor Vaughn, King Ghidra, Metal Fingers, and more. Unmasked, Daniel Dumile, would grow to be one of the most influential rappers of all time.
Operation: Doomsday is the perfect place to start if you’re not familiar with his work yet. Utilizing samples from old school cartoons throughout the record, DOOM is able to be fully immersed in his supervillain role. Although still anonymous at the time, the masked and masterful narrator is able to speak from his heart by paying homage to his late brother.
Although playing the antagonist, something that makes him stand out is his ability to not take himself too seriously. ‘Rhymes Like Dimes’ would ironically be one of DOOM’s most popular songs, but encapsulates his career as a rapper. Never fully reaching the mainstream, Doom prophetically spits, ‘I sell rhymes like dimes /
The one who mostly keep cash but brag about the broker times.’ While Dumile pokes fun at himself as one of those rappers who will flaunt his past as a struggling artist, it becomes clear through his career that he’s not in it for the fame or money.
2004 would be a big year for DOOM, releasing both MM… FOOD and Madvillainy. An anagram for MF DOOM, MM… FOOD shows Dumile’s playful side, as he’s able to pair palatable parodies of food and gritty jazz melodies into one comprehensive record. Keeping the same energy of Operation: Doomsday, the anecdotalist continues to creatively tell his tales through skits and support from cartoon samples.
We might get a little insight to the man behind the mask in ‘Beef Rapp.’ In this track, he says, “He wears a mask just to cover the raw flesh / A rather ugly brother with flows that’s gorgeous.” In more self-deprecating awareness, DOOM continues in ‘One Beer,’ rhyming, “Crooked eye, mold, nerd geek with a cold heart / Probably still be speaking in rhymes as an old fart / Study how to eat to die by the pizza guy / No, he’s not too fly to skeet in a skeezer eye.’”
Madvillain was actually formed due to the finesse of Egon Alapatt, the manager of Madlib’s label Stones Throw Records. Hoping to get them in the same room to “vibe out,” his tactics worked and created one of the most legendary duos of all time. Their only studio album, Madvillainy, would also be the first time DOOM reaches commercial success, getting to 179 on Billboard’s 200 and placing on both Rolling Stones and NME’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Times’ lists. The record is critically-acclaimed and highly regarded as the best work from both of the artists.
Prior to Madvillainy, DOOM would self-produce all of his raps, but this record would be almost exclusively produced by his Madvillain counterpart, Madlib. However, MF DOOM’s skillful storytelling abilities play a vital role in this narrative as it does in his works prior. The album is possibly DOOM’s most serious, abandoning his comedic style for a more personal and powerful way of rhyming. Here, he opens up more about his brother’s passing, his hard come-up, and his drug-pushing lifestyle. His wit and ability to sprinkle in obscure references isn’t lacking, though, and secures him as one of the most brilliant rappers of our generation.
MF DOOM’s Red Bull Interview
Although this isn’t an album, I had to include this iconic interview. If you’re an artist, I highly recommend you watch it. Being involved in the music scene, it’s refreshing to see how humble and willing Dumile was to help others. He cared about his art and didn’t fail to share his process with the world.
Personally, he inspires me to be a better artist and to practice humility every day. I hope his legacy will do the same for you. Rhyme In Power, Daniel Dumile.