Flash back to 2004. Young(er) David D. was a freshman in college and became one of those people that goes off, gets educated and feels too smart for what everyone else is in to. That meant strapping on a backpack and listening to everything underground. My iPod was full of albums like Wordsworth’s Mirror Music and Masta Ace’s Long Hot Summer. But above all, I was an MF DOOM stan.
I listened to every DOOM album and had them on full rotation for a year straight. DOOM ruled the underground during a time when Hip-Hop was in a weird transition from being dominated by message boards and actual physical interaction to the blog world we live in now. If DOOM had the whole Internet behind him in its current incarnation, he’d be an unstoppable force beyond his current cult status. But in the last couple of years, something strange has happened; DOOM’s disappeared. After having impostors show up at live performances and not really creating any music, MF DOOM has become even more of a mysterious relic from the last days of the Hip-Hop underground.
For those of you that missed the craze, here’s a rundown of his projects so you can get familiar.
MF DOOM – Operation Doomsday (1999) — Though OD was released in 1999, it didn’t come into fashion until after DOOM was an underground sensation. People flooded the net looking for the album, but it was out of print. While Doomsday wasn’t on the level of DOOM’s later works, it was interesting to see the album that laid the groundwork for the mask-donning persona.
Standout Track: “Rhymes Like Dimes” — One interesting thing about this album is that it’s a transition between the early works of Zev Love X and DOOM as his voice isn’t as deep and his rhymes are less non sequitur. “Rhymes Like Dimes” is a free-flowing stream of consciousness track that’s become DOOM’s staple.
King Geedorah – Take Me To Your Leader (2003) — If you’re a fan of DOOM’s production then this is the album for you. It’s pretty much Dumile’s production while other underground MCs spit. Most of the rappers are nowhere on the level of DOOM and the album is mediocre at best. If you love this album, then you probably still have your backpack strapped very close to your back.
Standout Track: “The Fine Print” — Like most producers, DOOM kept the best beat to himself. It’s quirky like the rest, but the horns are just so freaking nasty. Again, he wrecks the tracks with his bars, too.
Viktor Vaughn – Vaudeville Villain (2003) — I actually didn’t realize that this preceded DOOM’s other works until I was writing this post. Go figure. In the comic book world, Dr. Doom’s real name is Victor Von Doom. So Viktor Vaughn is the more of DOOM’s counterparts that takes on a bevy of random adventures. On one song, he grabs a flux capacitor to travel through crimes. On “Never Dead” he cheats on Peter Parker’s tests and goes looking for his video game throughout the halls of his high school. The storytelling on this album – I don’t mean to blaspheme – rivals that of Ghostface.
Standout Track: “Saliva” — I know I talked about the storytelling on this album, but Vik just goes off on this track. Over a banger by RJD2, this is an energetic track that should put you DOOM doubting Thomases to shame.
Madvillain – Madvillainy (2004) — This is the crown jewel of the MF DOOM collection. Most of the albums that came before this one didn’t come into popularity until Madvillainy came through and crushed the Hip-Hop scene. The original version of this album leaked with DOOM using the same voice he did in previous releases. When the final version came out, DOOM developed his villainous, deep voice. It melded perfectly over Madlib’s dark beats. This album came out before TSS, but if we were around you better believe there would be strong consideration for giving this project the full ciggeration.
Standout Track: “Fancy Clown” — Where do I start? Every track on this album is standout but “Fancy Clown” is just the height of creativity as Viktor Vaughn raps about a girl that left him for MF DOOM. Bonus point for this being a personal break-up song.
Viktor Vaughn – Venomous Villain (2004) — This album is…meh. Like Take Me To Your Leader, it featured a lot of rappers that only got murked by Vik on each track. But at only 12 tracks – four of them skits – this was more of a side project than an album. If it dropped today, the project most certainly would be given out for free. It seemed like a mailed-in record that didn’t stand up to DOOM’s monster 2004 MVP year.
Standout Track: “Bloody Chain” — Another beautifully weaved story about the dangers of rocking expensive chains. This one, though, of course had a twist.
MF DOOM – MM…Food (2004) — This was the first DOOM album I picked up and I loved it. The vintage Fantastic Four cartoon samples from the 60s strewn throughout combined with the constant food references made for a masterful and true concept album. Rappers talk about spitting “metaphors”, well doom spit allegories. Just look at “Kookies,” a track that sounds like it’s gibberish but is actually about masturbation. This, combined with Madvillainy, marked DOOM’s arrival as a top-notch song writer and storyteller.
Standout Track: “Beef Rapp” — When Food… dropped, 50 Cent was on top of the world. “Beef Rapp” was a direct response to the Hip-Hop landscape at the time. “These rappers are stripper males/ outta work jerks since they shut down Chip N’ Dales”.
DangerDoom – The Mouse And The Mask (2005) — This album was the peak of DOOM’s popularity. After the success of his 2004 campaign, he teamed up with DJ Danger Mouse to release an Adult Swim-themed album. That’s right. Every track was based on an Adult Swim show. The result is hilarious, bizarre, utterly creative material. We also saw some relatively mainstream collaborations with Talib Kweli, Cee-lo and Ghostface that were all highly-anticipated.
Standout Track: “The Mask” — This only made sense: DOOM and Ghostface. Two MCs that were so closely tied to Marvel Comics, nonsensical lyrics and riveting storytelling. This got the world ready for a collaborative album that we were promised but it never truly came to fruition.
After 2005, things sort of fell apart. The DOOM/Ghostface album never came about and DOOM started no-showing concerts across the country, losing favor with so many of his fans. By the time his 2009 album, Born Like This, dropped, the villain’s 2003-2005 momentum was all but lost. Since then, we’ve hardly heard a word from DOOM and his disappearance is just as mysterious and bizarre as his backstory. Somehow this seems to only add to DOOM’s cult status. His place in Hip-Hop lore is often debated as there are as many people that think he’s just a worthless, nonsense-spitting rapper as there are die-hard fans. Let the debate continue.
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