Technically the first time I really heard MF DOOM (aka Daniel Dumile), it was in conjunction with another NYC group called 3rd Bass. His somewhat playful lyrics in 1989's "Gas Face" were followed up by "Peachfuzz", which was my introduction to the group KMD, consisting of DOOM (then known as Zev Love X), his brother Subroc, and a few revolving third members. After releasing a solid debut album in 1991, KMD was essentially shelved prior to their next release due to controversial cover art that their label would not approve. After a series of lengthy delays, the album was once again in production when in 1993, Subroc was tragically killed by an automobile. This pretty much marked the end of KMD.
To be completely honest, during the time when KMD's first album was released, I really wasn't checking for it. So, when i heard MF DOOM's 1999 debut "Doomsday" album, I was shocked when my friend told me "Yo, that's that dude from KMD". More shocking, however, was how gritty the production was and how crazy the rhyme patterns were. DOOM was taking things to a level I hadn't really heard before; taking chunks of stanza's and rhyming them together in an almost drunken, slurred flow that just sounded....perfect. Taken from from "Greenbacks":
It's funny how significance make a difference
Notice parables of three in every other inference
who wanna battle? On the real?
Choose your weapon: microphones, beats, or the wheels of steel
The thing is, he had this completely unique flow, which was paired with the most bargain-basement-sounding samples and drums, but the combination was just ridiculous. I mean, my friends and I used to literally make fun of how busted the drums were. But still, they were perfect in conjunction with the rest of the track.He sampled Sade for the album's title track. He sampled SCOOBY DOO (!!!) for "Hey!". He sampled Steely Dan for "Gas Drawls". The production was infectious. He rhymed slow. He rhymed quick. Literally - in a track titled "Tick, Tick...". And he wore a metal Doctor Doom mask while doing it(ok well technically its the mask from "Gladiator", but, you know). He was out of shape, and tended to show up at shows in a dirty wife beater with his wife next to the stage. He was losing his hair. At a time when Diddy seemed to be taking over hip hop, and artists were making huge videos with 80,000 lights and 50 dancers all wearing the same color, here comes this album that sounded like he might have made it in the bathroom. I had "Operation Doomsday" on tape, and I think I actually popped a tape and had to get it re-dubbed from a friend, I played it so much.
So pretty much DOOM became part of a relatively short list of artists where I would buy a new release completely unheard, knowing that it would be good. And he has not disappointed to this very day. Spreading across a series of aliases, he has released work as DOOM, King Gheedorah, Viktor Vaughn (which actually I'm proud to say was partially recorded in Space 1026 in Philly, our first real production studio location and home of King Honey aka Max Lawrence), and one half of Madvillain (along with famed producer Madlib), as well as putting out about ten complete volumes of his own instrumentals and "special blends" (existing songs by other artists remixed over his own tracks). There's a complete re-working of Nas's Nastrodamus album entitled "Nastradoomus" (although as far as i know DOOM has nothing to do with this, it still made an album I had pretty much shelved into a new album worthy of listens).
Probably the best known of his works was his collaboration with the Stones Throw Records mainstay - the prolific Madlib- entitled "Madvillain". This album saw a lyricist at the peak of his craft, coupled with one of the hottest indy hip hop producers around, their resulting LP stayed in rotation worldwide for quite some time. I hadn't originally planned to use the cover as the template for this tribute bag, but as I scoured print and the internet for photos, it became increasingly evident that this would be one of the best representations possible. His mask is the most recognizable thing about him, and the dark, brooding setting (the bottom half of the mask is almost hidden) fits in well with the mood set in much of his music.
Without going too far with this, let me just say that DOOM remains one of my favorite lyricists of all time, and is actually one of the few people I'll still shell out a decent amount of money for to see at a show.Recently Madlib released a reworked version of the "Madvillain" album (aptly titled "Madvillainy 2: the Madlib Remixes) with completely new beats....as a testament to the longevity of DOOM's verses, the thing sounds fresh still. Snippets such as this and the Dilla Ghost Doom "Sniper Elite" single (DOOM completely destroys the late great Dilla's "Anti-American Graffiti" instrumental) have helped quell the anxiety for new material from the masked one, but more is always appreciated.....