MF Doom By Many Other Names
Published Sep 04, 2003Doom's day is coming the metal face villain is releasing a fantastic four albums this year. It might seem like MF Doom appeared out of nowhere, but make no mistake, this alter ego-embracing rapper-producer is no newcomer to the game. In fact, he made his first appearance on record in 1989 on 3rd Bass's "The Gas Face." At the time, he was known as Zev Love X, and his group, KMD, went on to guest on 3rd Bass's "Ace in the Hole" and release their own debut album, Mr Hood, both in 1991.
"We were one of the few groups that explored different ways of producing and different topics to speak about," says Doom. Their momentum was cut short in 1993 when Elektra refused to release their sophomore album, Black Bastards, due to controversial cover art. Later that year, Subroc, brother to Zev Love X and fellow member of KMD, was killed in a car accident. It would be half a decade before X would show his face again.
When he did, it was hidden behind the mask of Doom. Taking a nickname from his youth (Doom is an abbreviation of his birth name, Daniel Dumile), mixing in distortions of Marvel super-villain Dr. Victor Von Doom, and borrowing the "MF" from occasional conspirator MF Grimm, he resurfaced as MF (Metal Face) Doom in 1999 with Operation: Doomsday, a certified underground classic that mixed Doom's minimal, lo-fi beats with pop reference-fuelled vocals. "I just wanted to start fresh," he says of the name change. "I wanted to get a clear perspective on the new style from the crowd with no bias," a task made easier when anonymous.
Marshalling alter egos, Doom is prepared to strike again. He's already released two albums under different names. There's King Geedorah, Doom's Monster Island czar character, who made some appearances on the Escape From Monster Island compilation before releasing his own Take Me To Your Leader album, another self-produced lo-fi project that's often hit-and-miss. Doom says of his three-headed, Godzilla-derived character, "Geedorah's an extra-terrestrial. He'll transmit messages via telepathy to Doom and then Doom will transcribe them similar to how they say some of the Scriptures were written."
While Take Me To Your Leader was a disappointment, Vaudeville Villian, recorded as Viktor Vaughn, is one of the year's best hip-hop albums. Vik Vaughn, who also derives his name from the Marvel super-villain, is "from an alternate universe," says Doom, "and he travels through time as well as inter-dimensionally." Vaughn gets stuck when his "gizmo-gadget-time travel thing" fails after beaming into Brooklyn, where he meets Sound Ink producer Heat Sensor, also a fellow time travel tinkerer, and decides to record an album.
Still to come are his MF Doom projects. MM Food picks up where Operation: Doomsday left off, even using beats from the same recording session. "The whole album feels like a picnic to me, like a whole day at the park," Doom reveals. "You've got different characters that come to the barbecue and kick it, so you've got different stories going on. And also, you have different types of food that people brought." It's a concept album of sorts; the title to each song corresponds to an item of food. But probably more anticipated is MadVillian, a project with Lootpack's Madlib on the beats, already widely available on the internet in unfinished form.
Doom is no stranger to bootlegging. Black Bastards was heavily bootlegged even before the internet, and only got an official release in 2000. Building on the renewed interest in KMD, Doom is taking it back to his roots; their third album is already in the works. "KMD is like, it's ill," says Doom as his phone battery dies, proving that no matter what time or dimension you're from, technology can be a bitch. Now, if he could just stick to one alter ego, MF Doom might be able to attract the attention of the masses. And the Marvel Comics lawyers.