Tag Archives: MF Doom

Geeking Out on Live De La

3 Jun

That DOOM Pack

14 Jan

DOOM Haiku

10 Jan

The mask was a plan.

Perfectly executed,

and all on his terms.

~Bob E. Freeman

Death of a Super Villain

7 Jan

The feeling I have around the Hip Hop’s loss of MF Doom is very similar to how I felt when I found out that brilliant and underrated comic Patrice O’ Neal. Both artists were not quite for everyone, but typically, a bond formed was with anyone I encountered who also shared a love for both Doom and O’Neal. Fans of both men were the epitome of the term “cult following.”

There were a few reasons for this, neither artist got the mainstream love that their contemporaries got, but if you did your homework, you’d find that their professional peers were just as big of fans (if not bigger) as so called civilians with O’Neal being known as the “comedian’s comedian” and Doom “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper”. Neither men were afraid to be hated. In fact, both embraced being thought of as the villain.

Doom was never in my top five MC’s, but after listening and re-listening to his music nonstop since the year began, I’m questioning why. A few years ago, I was geeking out on my favorite MC, Yasiin Bey a.k.a. Mos Def, and found a video post of him talking about how big of a fan he was of DOOM. In the video Bey is going off the top of the dome quoting his favorite DOOM lyrics. To see Bey, a renowned poet himself, gush over DOOM’s songs gave me a different perspective. I’d often see his music as cartoonish and comical, but the more I dug, the grittier I found DOOM to be.

Funnily enough, my first exposure to KMD (Doom’s first rap group where he rapped under the name Zev Love X) and Doom was on the same day. I worked at a (now defunct) record store in the early 2000’s and the store’s shipping clerk (ironically, a white guy) was sorting through orders and showed me a copy of Operation Doomsday. Being a comic book geek growing up, I was immediately drawn to it. The shipping clerk then said if I liked that then maybe I’d dig KMD, which he conveniently had a copy of their cd, Black Bastards.

At the time I was listening almost exclusively to Jazz, but I was once again put on notice when Madvillainy came out (an album which arguably ushered in the final wave of really good underground rap) and then MM…Food . Before I had a chance to blink, Dangerdoom was out. By that time, I was living in the Bay Area, driving around Oakland and Berkeley, listening to Special Herbs + Spices instrumentals. But it would be much later as a deejay when I got a hold of Vaudeville Villain and Venomous Villain that I finally understood Doom’s production, rhymes and most importantly–his ethos.

The MF DOOM mystique runs on parallel levels. The story itself is legendary. A pair of Long Island New York brothers achieve their dreams of getting a record deal, only for one of the brothers to die the same week the rap group gets dropped from their label. The surviving brother goes underground and creates an alter ego and successfully cultivates a fan base by rapping from behind a mask and putting out multiple classic hip hop albums–four in the span of a five year period (even the Doomposter controversy only adds to the mythos).

Unfortunately, that is not where the story ends. Only a couple of years ago, DOOM would experience another brutal loss, with his 14 year old son dying. It seems fitting that the general public would find out on New Year’s Eve of 2020 that the rapper had died on Halloween. It is a heavy tale in a genre full of heaviness.

You can hear the gravitas in his music (less in the collaborations with Madlib and Danger Mouse). The beats are gritty, sloppy, and have that DIY vibe about them (which could explain why he’s so popular in the streets). It didn’t surprise me at all to see a Bukowski poem set to music on his 2009 album, Born Like This (Bukowski, a poet who focused on the ugly, profane and perverse aspects of everyday life, was an acquired taste himself). His rhymes sound rugged and raw yet poetic. The dichotomy in his music is hard to catch at first, with his catchy hooks, hilariously clever punchlines and the underlying sadness that the real life Daniel Dumile faced every day upon waking up.

In creating a character to rap as, in a way Doom preserved his humanity, creating a space for him to live his life and still rap for a living ( as well as creating a distance in his music from his personal life . I can only wonder in admiration at a man who faced so much adversity and yet continued to create. The anonymity only added to the mystique. The mask was a foil to the rising cosmetic appeal in Hip Hop. But from those artists who knew and him worked with him, we received some heartfelt tributes and words. You can sense the realness that drew others to him.

As with Patrice O’Neal, the world is no longer the same without DOOM. He was a true artist in a genre rapidly devoid of true creativity. You’d be hard pressed to find any rap artist who had a ten year run like DOOM did; with twelve critically acclaimed albums (six solo and the other collaborations)–four of those projects being certified classics. Like most genius artists, we’re lucky to have had them here for a little while, and even luckier that they left something behind. Most importantly, DOOM, O’Neal, and even Bukowski got to experience success on their own terms, and isn’t that what every successful artist truly want?

Rest in Power

MF DOOM January 9, 1971-October 31, 2020


Bobby Mickey, Author at Hip Hop Golden Age Hip Hop Golden Age



Most Perfect Doom Songs

21 Aug

Labor Day Mini-Playist

29 Aug

Gangsta Gibbs

25 Sep

I’d never even heard of Freddie Gibbs until sometime this spring. His name was popping up all over the internet because of his project–with the infamous producer Madlib–Pinata. I pulled it up on Spotify and was immediately floored.

My old college roommates introduced me to the madness of the Madlib. His projects with MF Doom are legendary (check out my boy Yasiin Bey’s homage),

and his foray into jazz may have arguably influenced creative genius Flying Lotus, a producer/writer/composer who seems to float in the same stratosphere as Madlib.

Madlib's name alone was worth peeping this collaboration, but Freddie Gibbs not only holds up his end of the project, he makes you say "Goddamn!! I aint heard rappin' like this since Pac died." I immediately liked his flow, and his subject matter. The things he rapped about and they way he raps reminds me of cats I knew from back in my hometown.

Gibbs has been in the game for a minute though, and after I heard the album, I couldn’t believe the backlog of material this cat has. I’ve been floating off that Kush cloud ever since.

Apparently the working title of this album was called “Cocaine Pinata” (I’m sure the record label was thrilled). Whenever I think about Pinatas, I think about playing a prank on a bunch of elementary kids where they bust a pinata and there is no candy. Then I yell, “Pinata? More like PinnnnNADA!”

Shit’s corny I know, but I can’t help myself. I giggle every time I think about this.

Anyway, the album is jamming. Gibbs is pretty street with his raps. Shit is raw, and gangsta. When I watched the Thuggin’ video I nearly lost it. You never see videos like this anymore–this would never make it onto RAP CITY without serious editing. Dudes are getting robbed and killed, cats smoking the rock. The video is mind blowing. The beat itself is so clean and so grimy at the same time–like a really polished RZA track. That is what fascinates me so much about this collaboration though, the juxtaposition of Freddie Gibbs’ raw street lyrics, and Madlib’s clean production. They provide a great balance for the album.

The track “Deeper” is another example of this juxtaposition. There are so many levels of greatness on this song. Freddie is talking about some deep shit here, discussing a universal experience involving that first real heartbreak, but in a balanced way, not in an overly macho, or syrupy context. He spits some real shit over a nasty beat with a lovely bass line.

What I like about Gibbs’ style is he isn’t just rhyming and he doesn’t just rely on using similes in his raps. He uses metaphors as a way of telling a story. For example, on the cut “Deeper” he talks about “smoking on the gateway” before getting “sucked up like a vacuum” (okay the last one is a simile–but I’m saying he isn’t over reliant on them like a lot of rappers are these days).

“Lakers” and “Knicks” are two dope tracks that seamlessly segue into each other. “Lakers” talks about when he first signs a contract and moves to Los Angeles. He reflects on the initial struggle of grinding his way through the industry and finally seeing the success he envisioned for himself (there are a lot of us out here who can relate to being the homie on the couch for a spell or two).

“Knicks” is a beautiful piece of poetic work. Gibbs uses two different iconic basketball games–involving the New York Knickerbockers–from different decades to vividly explore the distinctly different circumstances surrounding his life (and in the process parallels Lebron James’ and Michael Jordan’s careers).

The production of course is on point. Madlib threw out some dark beats for Gibbs to work with–some weird futuristic Alan Parsons type shit on some tracks, but then he’ll get on some old school 70’s pimp shit on others. There are some bangers on here. “Shitsville”knocks hard, and “Harold’s” is a dope track to drive around with the sun roof down in the early afternoon (The lyrics themselves will make you want to buy a ticket to Chicago and pay a visit to the chicken joint the song is named after).

The cameos are great as well, Scarface, Earl Sweatshirt, Chef Raekwon, and Danny Brown all stop in on some flawless tracks. Even Mac ” O’Doyle rules” Miller shows up (who seems a bit out of place here talking bout reading Emerson and Dickens, and eating Belgian Waffles) for a turn on the microphone.

I’m not one to throw around the “C” word, but “Pinata” has all the makings of a classic album. Flawless production and Gibbs inventive wordplay make repeated listening a must with this album. Collaborative efforts of this level are rare in the hip-hop world, and it will be hard to think of either artist from here on out without thinking of this project (reportedly this was a 3 year process recorded separately–Madlib gave him 8 cds worth of music and told him to go to work.

I like Freddie Gibbs as an artist and lyricist (a listen to the same album’s instrumentals gives tons of perspective–the tracks sound so naked without vocals–and that is something that is rarely said about Madlib tracks), but it would be foolish to expect future albums to be like this project (I’m sure he’ll have his bangers, but most albums feel like a collection of songs rather than a cohesive unit).

I feel strongly about this album, as I did when OK Computer, Wu-Tang Forever, Aquemini, and Atliens came out. I can remember where I was when I first heard those albums, and when I bought them. 2014 for me will forever be imprinted with this album. The shit is still banging (hell I’m blogging about it well after it came out–that has to say something right?), and I’m still bumping it as hard as the first time I heard it this spring. Trust me, “Pinata” is nothing to sleep on. I think its easily one of the best albums of the year.