A look at MF DOOM and his Influence
20 Jan 2021
DOOM: the name synonymous with layered rhymes, skits and your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. These associations come from decades of work, collaboration and timeless music.
MF DOOM started in a group called KMD under the name Kev Love X. The group disbanded after DJ Subroc who is also DOOM’s brother passed away leaving him shattered. The years following DJ Subroc’s passing left him in much turmoil as he became homeless, he would recover using the moniker we often refer to him as, MF DOOM.
Emerging in 1999 with ‘Operation Doomsday’, this album and his discography make the legacy that is MF DOOM. ‘Operation Doomsday’ features his signature sound of using skits, layered rhymes and sampled instrumentals. He followed this up with a collaboration album with Madlib under the duo name Madvillain; this collaboration would cement his name as iconic. The album ‘Madvilliany’ features tracks like “Meat Grinders” and “Curls” which are often quoted when looking for examples of complex rhyme schemes as seen in the Vox’s ‘Rapping, Deconstructed: The best rhymers of all time‘.
‘MM…FOOD’ is an classic album and an anagram of the name MF DOOM. This project is iconic for having the subject matter and rhyming content entirely referencing food, such as “Beef Rap”, “Fillet-O-Rapper” and “Konkarne” all of which cover different subject matters but are purposefully phrased as different meals. The track “Kookies” looks at the topic of sex but to the unsuspecting ear is a song that tells the story of someone trying to get food. The MF DOOM ‘Special Herbs’ and ‘Special Blends’ compilation albums add to his diverse discography. The names Viktor Vaughn and King Geedorah channel characters within MF DOOM’s universe. Other collaboration albums with JJ Doom, Czarface, NehruvianDoom and MF Grimm add to the complex nature of the DOOM experience.
“Just remember ALL CAPS when you spell the man name.”– MF Doom
When playing MF DOOM you’re going to realise several ideas of the rapper, the versatile nature of his artistry is not limited to the multiple names or albums. DOOM’s music features skits from different comics to build a narrative plot within an album, he uses samples of cartoons to create an immersive world for the listener. If you’re listening to ‘Operation Doomsday’, between certain tracks you will hear the sample voices of comic characters villainously describing their plots and schemes in the way a villain would. He takes this further and develops other characters in order to create further bodies of work. These characters fill the MF DOOM universe but are entirely separate from MF DOOM, this idea of villainy is rampant throughout his catalogue.
Another aspect of his diverse nature lays within his choice of instrumentals, he often samples jazz and other artists for his own sound. DOOM doesn’t listen to other hip hop artists and only does this for the money and clearly that works. The instrumentals often feature sampled or real instruments: pianos, guitars and strings as opposed to sampled synthesised sounds found on the records on chart topping hip hop tracks. This isn’t always the case but he evidently favours it.
He uses multi-syllable rhymes that are intertwined with an array of bars in order to create a string-like rhythm that could go over your head if you’re thinking too deeply about one section of the bar. This ability is a part of what makes him so well recognised, in the track “Figaro” he raps; “A shot of Jack got her back it’s not an act stack / Forgot about the cackalack, holla back; clack-clack, blocka…”, DOOM is masterful at stringing rhymes together.
MF DOOM’s iconic legacy is recognised by other present day rappers, this is why he is often slated to be your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. The likes of Freddie Gibbs, Childish Gambino, Drake, Jpegmafia, Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Mos Def have openly shown their appreciation for the masked villain.
Metal Face DOOM has impacted hip hop tremendously and should be mentioned alongside the names of J Dilla, Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G., I personally have a deep appreciation for the work he has made, it’s a superior sound.
Rest in peace MF DOOM.