He is an enigma. What about a man who wears a metal mask, samples 60’s & 70’s cartoons to create grungy instrumentals, spits an off-kilter flow, sends stand-ins and imposters to shows in his place, all while representing mainstream hip-hop’s ultimate supervillain have so much appeal? He’s not someone you’re supposed to like. He’s not someone who you’re supposed to be a fan of. But when he puts on that mask and that Scooby-Doo Theme sample comes on, it’s already too late...
This is his origin story.
The British-Born Producer/MC of Long Island started out in the late ’80s. Back then he was known as Zev Love X. He and his brother, DJ Subroc and rapper, Rodan, formed the group KMD were signed to Electra Records and released their first album, Mr. Hood, in 1991. After a small roster change and 2 years, the brothers were poised to release their second album, Black Bastards. Unfortunately, the album would never see the light of day. A tragedy fell upon the group after Zev’s brother was struck and killed in a car accident and shortly after the group was subsequently dropped from their label. The news struck a chord in Zev and in 1993, he retreated to Atlanta, Georgia. Broken by not only news of his brother, but also the betrayal of his former records label. The young man vowed that one day he would have his revenge on the industry who had left him so horribly disfigured.
Zev had given up on the rap game for 4 years. Rumors were swirling in 1997, he began to circulate the open-mic scene in Manhattan, concealing his identity in behind a woman’s stocking. Soon thereafter, Zev had revealed his new identity to the world as MF DOOM, in the guise of a homemade mask bearing the facade of Marvel Comics’ Doctor Doom. By 1999, he had released his first album under his new alias and began to gain a cult following that supported his next couple albums as an MC and also a producer, but under the names Viktor Vaughn, Metal Fingers and King Geedorah. By 2004 his following grew and in that time, he managed to record his most critically acclaimed project alongside the producer Madlib, the ambitious album, Madvillainy. The duo became forever known as Madvillain.
His style can only be described as a well formulated but off-brand flow. A long shot away from the days of KMD where his flow was more upbeat, more positive and the beats were more soulful. But as if completing transformation, he put on that mask in the late 90’s and became someone else. An artist you’re not supposed to like; a boastful, violent, prophetic, megalomaniac. But that mask also creates a special relationship with his fans. The music is so fucking dope, that even though the artist may not give two shits about you, you find yourself enthralled with it’s strange but captivating appeal.
Now, I should make it clear that DOOM’s music isn’t for everyone. He kinda dumps a lot on the listener in terms of meaning, pattern, and vocabulary. This may be a breaking point for a lot of people. But if you’re like me, I analyze as much as I can about an MC lyrics, and it’s needless to say I got lost of the intricacies of both the lyrics and the instrumentals that seem to intertwine in a melodic, melancholic, hip-hip comic book, where the person you’re rooting for is the guy with the stolen bag of money and a Metal Mask.