MF DOOM Was a Window to New Worlds

College or university, for many, is the time of new opportunities. During my very first and only year of college, in the serenity of a modest Pennsylvania city, two rap legends gave me clarity about how boundless, subversive, and adaptable the hip-hop entire world is. I just can’t say I retain considerably from these general ed programs, which is my very own fault, but I realized to have interaction hip-hop in a fully various way thanks to MF DOOM and Sean Cost, two rebels who shirked market norms and served lots of explore new hip-hop scenes that existed outdoors the mainstream bubble. 

Like most people today growing up in the aughts, my perception of hip-hop was described by Guess, MTV, and the radio. It was a wonderful crash study course, but in hindsight, it was minimal. It was not until I started to delve into the mixtape scene that I observed artists who existed outside of the 106 & Park countdown. But even then, my emotion was that rappers like Papoose and Saigon sought to finally ascend into that mainstream sphere themselves. 

I understood that staying hip to the “next up” artist was not the similar detail as staying up on the scenes that existed outside mainstream visibility and have been supposedly “too smart” for Bet, like Minimal Brother. Mainstream functions like N.E.R.D, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco ended up instrumental in piquing my desire in remaining-of-center seems, but I hadn’t nevertheless engaged with “the underground.” That possibility lastly arrived in the summer top into university, with lots of cost-free time and a budding curiosity. 

The 1st person I tapped into was Sean Selling price and Monkey Barz. I had previously listened to him on the GTA III soundtrack, but I did not know significantly about him. It only took my 1st pay attention to recognize that he sidestepped the norm. Most artists in my admittedly constrained rap consciousness at the time were coveting riches, and fakin’ it til they designed it, so consider my shock when my new favorite MC grew to become “the brokest rapper you know,” Sean Cost. Not only did he make no bones about not getting the trappings of prosperity that rappers ended up “supposed” to have, he made his brokeness a central topic of his audio. Sean P cracked a code for my rap listening expertise. It was an prolonged comedy bit about music, like an Al Bundy who after scored on four stickups in a night time as an alternative of touchdowns. I experienced knowledgeable rappers who were crotchety and just arrived off miserable with their field practical experience, but P captured that similar resentment and made it hilarious. 

In the solitude of my dorm area, secluding myself from the problem of hoping to in fact meet new men and women, I was invested in discovering far more magnetic MCs that Guess had hidden from me. That identical summer time of ‘06, I was listening to Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale, a beloved album that had quite a few standout beats produced by MF DOOM. “9 Milli Bros” was a fitting banger for the Wu reunion and “Clipse Of Doom” was a noxious sample in good shape for struggle rhymes, but “Underwater” was the a person for me. It was not just Ghost charismatically discovering a nautical netherworld it was the way DOOM’s beguiling soundscape essentially sounded like one was underwater, years ahead of OVO transformed our comprehension of that phrase. 

Around the very same time, I arrived across a significant Wu-Tang blend on Limewire, and a friend informed me they were being actually rapping around the beat for DOOM’s “Rapp Snitch Knishes.” I discovered it, and instantly died laughing. How could one particular not be amused by, “‘Do you see the perpetrator?’ ‘Yeah, I’m suitable here’/Fuck all over, get the entire label despatched up for years.”


DOOM was a social phenomenon in the purest feeling of the phrase, like the lone video game of telephone that carried the identical information during: Just bear in mind ALL CAPS when you spell the gentleman name.


Like Sean P, DOOM had occur for the absurdity of a single of rap’s sacred cows: allowing people know how you acquired it in the streets. At my age, I figured that’s just how it was, with artists making an attempt to outreal every single other by promoting by themselves as genuine-to-everyday living as achievable. I’m positive their labels had no difficulty with the circumstance they’d experience none of the penalties. Rappers ought to have their creative license to say what they want without having law enforcement departments and politicians seeking to nail them, but damn, there are tales of some artists producing it much easier than other individuals. “Rapp Snitch Knishes” is an unforgettable music that struck at that. As an avid admirer of satire, I was hooked. 

It was not just the idea of “Rapp Snitch Knishes,” nevertheless. It was DOOM’s mic existence. His verse produced me examine out the relaxation of MM..Food stuff, and I was instantly hooked. I hadn’t been uncovered to quite a few actual thought albums but, so it shook me up to listen to anyone use random foodstuff as the setoff for Grownup Swim-worthy narratives. He rhymed like a seer from a parallel universe, back again with assonant parables in tow. You could not get the ethical of the story, but you’d be entranced as he went from line to line, often tumbling by means of his rhyme scheme like a downhill runner striving to continue to be standing. 

Then I explored his Madvillainy project with Madlib. It was a meeting of two masterful minds that resulted in a a single-of-a-type listening encounter. Some albums are “post” and “pre” times. It is tricky to play Madvillainy and not have felt like you just had a transformative listening practical experience. It was like a jazzy, soulful fever aspiration, as it crunched together limited, a person-verse tunes before it was the norm. 

It didn’t get a great deal for me to comprehend this was what independence sounded like. This is what’s doable without a label exec putting a metric-dependent ceiling on genius. I knew hip-hop was storytelling, but I hadn’t heard an individual have that substantially freedom with it beforehand. Which is not a statement on the background of rap, but my private listening experience. DOOM embodied the supervillain, and like P, he cloaked himself inside of his personal sonic universe. It was unabashedly nerdy, but also so large that you could delve in and marvel along with an individual else, who you inevitably put on to his tunes. You didn’t have to have a million other men and women to be in on this. 

Potentially that immersiveness was a credit rating to DOOM remaining a rapper and producer who controlled the bounds of the working experience. His Exclusive Herbs instrumental series was an fully unique practical experience for me. His prolific nature and flexibility was astounding, and I was intrigued that he wasn’t fearful of just looping specific samples, understanding that his rhymes (or people of his rap peers) would hold you enthralled. 

Listening to his beats opened up a whole new world of artists to discover. From time to time I’ll enjoy the Exclusive Herbs box set on Spotify, clicking on a random song which invariably triggers an previous memory. Those moments just take me back to nights in ‘06, listening to his brilliance in the wee several hours of the early morning though I ponder my upcoming. 

In the end, items led me below, crafting about music for a dwelling. Who knows how much appreciation for audio I’d have if I didn’t thrust beyond the mainstream and take a look at the scenes after considered “the underground.” If anything, they ended up the painted sky above the steely skyscrapers of mainstream rap, with their sterile polish and recycled machinations. Consider as they may perhaps to influence us that industry may well automatically means benefit, couple mainstream functions attained the heights that artists like DOOM and Sean Value did. 

As I’m finding out in the time because DOOM’s tragic loss of life, hundreds of thousands of other people felt the identical way.  There’s confusion about what “underground rap” even signifies in 2021, but DOOM’s occupation harkens to a time when there were being very clear traces between mainstream rap and other scenes. Big labels experienced connections with Tv, radio, and the greatest push outlets, and an artist usually experienced to go by way of them to achieve the masses. DOOM was one particular of the several exceptions who grew his fanbase organically.

Most acquired about him by phrase of mouth, irrespective of whether it was smaller online information board communities, friends, or indie radio stations (with no commitment beyond playing the greatest rap music). I learned his identify from close friends, who I’m pretty guaranteed uncovered about him from friends, and so on. He was a social phenomenon in the purest perception of the phrase, like the lone game of phone that carried the same message in the course of: Just keep in mind ALL CAPS when you spell the guy title.

He prepared himself for that dynamic as a literal mysterious masked male. Though so quite a few MCs sought relatability with followers via their lifestyle tale, DOOM went the other way, pulling us in with intrigue about just who he was. Becoming a DOOM enthusiast was deeper than savoring the new music. The regular rap lover could explain to you a random point about exactly where their fave went to school, or what their dad and mom did. I remember so quite a few men and women my age, unaware of his preceding career exploits as Zev Love X, who just wished to know what DOOM looked like. Even nowadays, the internet does not trace the timeline of Daniel Dumile’s vocation aside from occasional interviews and features—mostly from the DOOM days. There was an overall mythos to faucet into with DOOM, which so many children like me have been eager to investigate.

He carried that mystique into his artwork, cultivating an overarching narrative of a rap supervillain who was observing lesser MCs creating the exact previous tune. Absolutely nothing else wherever sounded like “Accordion” or “One Beer” or “Figaro.” He rhymed about his supremacy with a jest that belied Jay-Z’s passionate situations for GOAThood. On “Doomsday,” he referenced his jail stint with no the chest-thumping ego the normal artist would make use of. DOOM’s strategy was just diverse.

For a child who was made use of to staying introduced with a minimal volume of rap archetypes, DOOM was exciting. From my minimal scope, it felt like so substantially of the mainstream rap that was introduced on Television set and radio were being rappers who rhymed about currently being in the streets, and then the occasional rappers they co-signed (an Eminem or Kanye) who sidestepped rapping about guns and medication. And once more, there is practically nothing wrong with that content material, but balance is crucial. DOOM defied all that. He rapped about no matter what he required in an oddball offer. He was too inaccessible to even be nervous about labels like “nerdy” or “weird.” Soon after all, there are a lot of Black people who are just that. We deserved some representation, much too. 

It’s fitting that Odd Upcoming, a collective that represented the identical thing for another generation of young children, have been devout followers. They aided introduce DOOM to an full technology of teens in the 2010s. But his impact did not just arrive at the artists who so obviously have on his torch. Playboi Carti and Aminé are two artists who shouted him out in the times soon after his dying. Even if they never seem like him, DOOM assisted give them the liberty to examine left-of-heart sounds. Carti’s rebellious, paradigm-pushing existence is in the lineage of DOOM. 

There are so many remarkable functions that formed my experience in the aughts, but it’s predominantly about DOOM and P for me. Both of those of them actively shunned the majors, and luckily so. They experienced the no cost rein to build partaking extensions of by themselves that mere advertising and marketing could not possibly visualize. Their insularity was much more sophisticated than, “I’m underground, fuck the mainstream.” That was implied, but they struck at all those sentiments employing their wit, humor, maverick lyrical ways. 

These guys did not need to be marketed the brilliance offered itself.

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