On October 31st, 2020, Daniel Dumile, aka MF DOOM, passed away at 49. He left behind one of the most prolific discographies of anyone in the hip-hop world. With 13 studio albums between solo and collaborative projects, the DOOM universe is expansive and deep. This doesn’t even count the 10 instrumental albums Dumile released under the pseudonym “Metal Fingers.” Trying to sum up DOOM’s career in one article is heresy, but I’m just going to try to do my best to celebrate the life of DOOM and the wonderful music he made over his 32-year career.
Starting his career off as a member of KMD with his brother Dingilizwe Dumile aka DJ Subroc, DOOM’s original moniker was Zev Love X, and KMD lasted for six years until the untimely passing of DJ Subroc. Dealing with the loss of his brother and being dropped from his label months before KMD’s second album, Black Bastards, was supposed to come out, Daniel Dumile left the music industry. Five years later, MF DOOM would emerge to destroy rap.
On October 19, 1999, MF DOOM’s Operation: Doomsday would release to the world. This would mark the return of Dumile into the music scene, but Zev Love X would not come back. Instead, a supervillain debuted and vowed to take over. Fueled by his exit from the music industry and his love for comics as a child, Dumile created the MF DOOM character as a vengeful MC who mixed references with narration from the 1960s Fantastic Four cartoon. Dumile created a world around the DOOM character and donned a mask for the rest of his career.
Dumile was the king of reinventing himself. Even on this record, we get to meet recurring characters in the MF DOOM world such as King Geedorah, Dumile under another alias. King Geedorah would get his own album in 2003’s Take Me To Your Leader. Dumile also created the character Viktor Vaughn, a juvenile delinquent character. Vaughn’s character was more emotional and less methodical like the supervillain MF DOOM. In Dumile’s final solo project, he would drop the MF and just go as DOOM. Even though it’s the same character, DOOM’s 2009 album BORN LIKE THIS was a sinister project than anything Dumile had released before. Gone was the wisecracking lines and rhymes about chips in favor of historical significance and a more angsty tone.
DOOM wouldn’t stick to this style and would revert back to the MF persona for the rest of his career. He would spend the rest of his career working with smaller MCs and producers on collaborative projects. Some of DOOM’s collaborative projects are as legendary as his solo work. Madvillainy, a collaboration with legendary producer Madlib, would be one of DOOM’s biggest and best albums of his career. DOOM was always ahead of his time with his rhyme style and his flow, but he changed the outlook of what a rap song could be on Madvillainy. Most songs are short, only running for two to three minutes and none of the songs feature a chorus. The focus is solely on Madlib’s unique beats and MF DOOM’s rhymes. Madvillainy succeeded in not only creating a great DOOM record, but it became one of the most legendary albums in the hip-hop genre.
But for me, MF DOOM’s greatest album is MM…FOOD. It’s a hip-hop concept album released in 2004. The album is all about food. Each song is a pun tied to food and DOOM has a focused vision. It’s DOOM at his finest with great skits, instrumentals, and rhymes that pack more punch than a sack lunch. DOOM’s most popular song, “Rapp Snitch Knishes feat. Mr. Fantastik,” comes from this album along with many other classic DOOM hits.
The craziest part about doom is how prolific he was at creating. King Geedorah’s Take Me To Your Leader, Viktor Vaughn’s Vaudeville Villain, Madvillain’s Madvillainy and MF DOOM’s MM…FOOD released in the span of less than two years. That’s four different classic projects with three different characters released in that time. Most modern-day rappers can’t release an album every two to three years, much less four classics in less than two.
Overall, DOOM is one of the greatest rappers of all time. He’s known as your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper. Modern-day rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, Drake, and Tyler, The Creator have mentioned DOOM in their songs or talked about his influence in interviews. On a personal note, DOOM has been one of my most played artist on my radio show and his beats have been part of my intro multiple times. It’s sad that we’re three years removed from getting to share the same world as the illest villain, but the art he left behind will live forever.
By Logan Hurston