Archive | February, 2021

MM..Leftovers: Random Thoughts from Binge Listening to MF DOOM for an Entire Month

1 Feb
  1. I wasn’t listening to much current hip hop by the time Operation: Doomsday came out. I bought one new release in 1999, and it was The Roots, Things Fall Apart which at the time, felt like the most important record to come out that year. Its hard to listen to DOOM’s first album with my ears from that time. Life was drastically different–especially New York. I don’t even know if I would have liked that album then. I had a huge bias for West Coast rap, then my preferences went South, then Midwest and finally to the east coast. Seems backwards I admit, but to a southern boy who had yet to visit the Mecca of hip-hop, New York may as well have been the moon. I loved Wu-Tang, but Wu-Tang was universal, but other than that, I wasn’t checking for much rap coming out of the east coast. Audio wise, Doomsday has that rawness of Enter the 36 Chambers, so there is a chance that I would’ve loved it had I heard it when it was first released, but as a 19 year old, chances are slim that I would’ve had the insight to understand it.
  2. My palette wasn’t sophisticated enough back then to appreciate it had someone dropped that album down in front of me. I can see why Mos Def immediately vibed to it, and why ?uestlove didn’t quite rock with it. Thinking back on how differently things were in the late 90’s there was nothing like this out. Operation: Doomsday has that DIY, punk rock aesthetic that feels so fresh among the other types of production and albums coming out back then. I see why it was so influential for fans and artists who championed it. It is a very charming record, but is still hardcore and street, with an undercurrent of the ethos that hip hop originated in. For those disillusioned with the direction rap music was going (consider for example, Nas at the beginning of that decade to the music he was making by the end of it) I see why this album was so revered.
  3. It is an absolute shame that the KMD album Black Bastards didn’t get released when it was supposed to be. It was completed in 1993, had it come out that year, it would’ve held its own place in the Canon of that year. I think it is as strong as anything that was released–this includes Midnight Marauders, Enter the 36, Doggystyle, Enter Da Stage, Digable Planet’s Reachin’ ,and 93 Til Infinity. The production is tight and the beats are warm and rich–so good that I still haven’t had a chance to study the lyrics(you can even see a little hint of future DOOM production if you pay attention). But I do think had I come out the year it was completed, Black Bastards would be regarded as a borderline classic album instead of this uncomfortable and unfortunate footnote.
  4. In 2004, when Champion Sound, MM FOOD, and Madvillain came out, I was drinking tea with white chicks and listening to boring old jazz records on my turntable. Later that Fall, I discovered Post-Rock music. I couldn’t be any further out of the hip-hop loop that year.
  5. One thing I love about DOOM’s production is that he samples songs that my parents and aunts and uncles listened to when I was growing up. Some of the beats take me back to Saturday mornings filled with the smell of Pine Sol the sounds of Anita Baker and Sade.
  6. It makes me feel good to hear all these stories from others who revered MF DOOM and those who knew him perfectly. His streams and music sales spiked considerably since news of his death and that brings a smile to my face. I hope his family and estate are getting some fat royalty checks.
  7. Listening to DOOM this past month has been pretty therapeutic–as well as educational. He wasn’t my favorite but he should have been. The man was a pure artist. DOOM was one of our last links to that final golden age of New York hip hop–a long and fruitful career that spanned 3 different eras. He started out as a break dancer and graffiti guy, then moved on to rhyming and production and performing. When I think of hip hop purist, DOOM and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) come to mind. Funnily enough, DOOM though of himself as more of a hip hop novelist than just a guy who rhymed. He was more interested in creating worlds and characters and writing good stories, as opposed to just rhyming over beats. There is a consistent level of humor, levity and brilliance that runs through all of his projects. Listening to DOOM’s music feels like a celebration; reminding me all of what’s important and good in the world. I am angry there wasn’t someone around to make me sit down and listen to his music earlier than when I finally did. I’ve always considered myself a DOOM fan, but now I’m a recent convert to a DOOM-head. He was definitely one of the best to ever do it—many say THE Best. Hip Hop lost a legend last year.
  8. If you think about DOOM’s life, it actually feels like a comic book. Smart, mild mannered man encounters tragedy and hits rock bottom, but has the vision and drive to become one of the most legendary rappers of all time. Considering the hand that was dealt to DOOM, it would’ve been easy for him to give up his dream and get a 9-5. But it didn’t break him. To endure that kind of adversity and become who he was shows how much confidence and positivity the man must’ve had. Respect. His is a story that is very inspiring.