Based on the Marvel Comics villain Dr. Doom, Daniel Dumile's rap persona MF Doom has been around since the late '90s, when it first appeared on Operation: Doomsday--the CD that resurrected a rap career that was long forgotten. But the rapper did not announce his return to the kingdom; he simply appeared as something completely new, something that came out of the blue. MF Doom's identity was practically unknown. He wore a metal mask, and his raps, though poetic and often funny, made little or no sense. Who was he? Which crew did he represent? What part of America did he come from?
This was the answer to part of the mystery: Born in London, raised in Long Island, the fantastic and prolific being that underground hiphop has come to know and admire as MF Doom began his career on 3rd Bass's hit "The Gas Face." MF Doom, then named Zev Love X, made a guest appearance on 3rd Bass's track much in the manner that Q-Tip made a guest appearance on the Jungle Brother's "In Time" (1988). Zev Love X, like Q-Tip, was offering a glimpse, a sample of what had the potential to become the next big thing in hiphop: with Q-Tip, it was A Tribe Called Quest; with Zev Love X, it was KMD. But whereas A Tribe Called Quest fulfilled their mission, KMD vanished before their record was released. The two main reasons for this disappointment were, one, Zev Love X's partner and brother, DJ Subroc, was suddenly killed in a car accident, and two, the controversy surrounding the cover art for the album Bl_ck B_st_rds--it featured a black Sambo cartoon character being hanged. Bl_ck B_st_rds was shelved and Zev Love X vanished.
The villain is now back with a vengeance. After Operation: Doomsday, Bl_ck B_st_rds was finally released on Subverse with the original cover. Between 2000 and 2002, MF Doom worked on projects with MF Grimm and numerous others (including Prefuse 73 and Scienz Of Life). Last year, under various aliases, he dropped no less than four CDs: Special Herbs 3 & 4 (Nature Sounds), Vaudeville Villain (Sound ink), Take Me To Your Leader (Big Dada), and Escape From Monster Island (Rhymesayers). All of these CDs are hiphop classics, and leave one with the impression that MF Doom's creativity is inexhaustible. There is, it seems, no end or limit to what he can do. As long has he is alive he will continue to absorb the wild variety of popular culture around him, concentrate and combine it in his imagination, and then return it to the world in the bizarre shapes and forms of his rap art.
This year MF Doom released what many are correct to believe is the most important hiphop record of the 21st century, Madvillain, which is produced by Madlib. In the past and the present, you will find nothing that compares to Madvillain. It stands entirely alone, and will remain so from now until the end of all time. CHARLES MUDEDE Last week's MF Doom's show was postponed; instead, he'll play this Sun April 18, Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny.