I know I’m not alone when I say that MF DOOM was one of the artists who got me into hip-hop. And by “into,” I mean really, really into it: listening to it constantly, aspiring to be involved in it, doing my best to live out that aspiration, thinking in beats and rhymes. For those of us who grew up worshipping Wu-Tang then worked our way back to golden-era hip-hop via the early ‘00s and late ‘90s underground scene, DOOM’s music was a driving force that at once bridged these movements and soared beyond them.

Everything about DOOM was iconic, not just the mask: the dollar-bin sample selection that was in constant conversation with itself; the smorgasbord of pop culture references that mined philosophical treatises from Saturday morning cartoons and Saturday afternoon Daikaiju films; and the intricately structured yet effortlessly breathless rhyme schemes, cadences within cadences, like mesmerizing burners sprung to elaborately dynamic life from deceptively simple sketches. It would’ve taken him three or four words to say all that, it would’ve sounded six thousand times better, and maybe freestyled.

When KMD’s first album dropped, I was five or six years old, so I’m one of the fans who never heard of Zev Love X until Black Bastards was released on Sub Verse. To this day, it’s my favorite DOOM album, one of my favorites by anyone for that matter. To my ears, the audio collage of “Garbage Day #3” is a high watermark for sample-based music. In just over two minutes DOOM and his late brother Subroc lay the thematic groundwork for what could be a full catalog without so much as one lyric. And then they proceed to rap and produce circles around their Native Tongues forebearers. And they would’ve been in their early 20s when they wrote that album. Truly inconceivable.

Of course, there’s no wrong answer to “what’s your favorite DOOM album,” and one can make a case for any number of them being among the best of their time. The run he went on from 1999 to 2004 has to be one of the greatest by any rapper/producer in any era. People forget he also produced prodigiously over that stretch, including no less than eight volumes of his Special Herbs & Spices series as well as the majority of MF Grimm’s The Downfall of Iblyss: A Ghetto Opera, an overlooked classic with a story behind it to rival even DOOM’s own reinvention saga.

Indeed, for such a singular artist, a remarkable amount of DOOM’s most iconic work was done collaboratively: with Subroc as KMD, with KEO on the mask, with Madlib as Madvillain, with Danger Mouse as DANGERDOOM, and with the Monsta Island Czars, who’ve featured prominently on these pages. A true visionary, he brought in the best and brought out theirs. Let’s not forget he also did four tracks on Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale, and to this day heads clamor for a DOOMSTARKS album.

Long Island has given the world some of the most original and landscape-altering rap music in hip-hop history, and DOOM’s was perhaps the most uniquely earth-shattering of it all. I haven’t even touched on Take Me to Your Leader, probably my second favorite album of his, and already I feel like I’ve given birth from the heart spilling words here. God do I hope there’s another King Geedorah project in the archives. Man am I thankful there’s one in the first place. By any name, Daniel Dumile was an absolute inspiration and an unforgettable genius. May he rest in peace.


Unknown said...

Rome Streetz freestyle on Shade 45 with Statik Selektah / Showoff Radio

2 Doom references in the freestyle

$bin♦ said...

Dope! Rome also references DOOM within the first two bars of "Gem Star Bars" off his Noise Kandy EP

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