MF Doom: Unmasked

He gave you Operation: DOOMsday and Vaudeville Villain, and now MF DOOM, along with the layered production of Madlib, gives you the long awaited collaboration album, Madvillainy. Awkward and beautiful; revealing and whimsical – Madvillainy was met with many classic reviews (including and is again proof of why MF DOOM’s unique delivery, superb lyricism, […]

He gave you Operation: DOOMsday and Vaudeville Villain, and now MF DOOM, along with the layered production of Madlib, gives you the long awaited collaboration album, Madvillainy. Awkward and beautiful; revealing and whimsical – Madvillainy was met with many classic reviews (including and is again proof of why MF DOOM’s unique delivery, superb lyricism, and intricately woven storylines make him one of Hip-Hop’s most intriguing MC’s. A rhyme spitter that lurks in the shadows, only allowing the public to gaze upon him in disguise, MF DOOM not only decloaked, but unmasked himself for Remember when Dorothy actually met the Wizard? Well, this time around, DOOM’s bigger than his image…see why. Bring cats up to speed on the history of MF Doom?

MF Doom: I’ve been rhyming ever since I was like 12 years old, man that’s been a while, like 83’, 84’. But it wasn’t until 8 years after that in like 90’ that I got into it professionally through MC Serch of 3rd Bass. When he got his Def Jam deal, he was like, “Yo, you wanna do somethin’” and from there he brought me under his wing to record that “Gas Face” joint (Rhyming under the name Zev Love X.) And also at that time me and my brother Subroc had a whole album’s worth of demos, but we was just doing it for fun we wouldn’t really trying to get a deal or nothing. And at that time there wasn’t really a lot of Hip-Hop albums out, the business aspect of Hip-Hop was really just starting to set off. But under Serch’s management, they got us a deal as KMD, so we knocked out the album and the rest is on some history type s**t. There was a “dark” period after your brother passed where you quit rhyming?

MFD: We didn’t have the avenue to put music out. For a time it got real hectic, with not having a deal n*ggas is broke so we didn’t even have no equipment. This st was the real dark days, but I always had a pen and a pad, just the matter of the recording was mad difficult. Around 93’ once we got off Elektra, and I lost my brother [Subroc], God bless, it was like, “No deal, fine.” I was still shopping. But it turned out that everybody turned they back on a n*gga, it was like I was black-balled out the game, I don’t know. Maybe it was because the game was changing, ‘cause we was on some experimental fun stuff like De La and Tribe was rocking, but then it started with that whole gangsta st, where you gotta be talking about some type of gat in order to catch peoples ear. It was a money thing, it seemed like that was thing that the companies wanted to capitalize on and I never started doing none of that s###, I stuck to my style. So when did things turn around and turn Zeb Love X to MF DOOM?

MFD: Then my man Bobbito heard some stuff I was doing, and he was like, “Yo let me put this out.” And I was trying to come with a new angle cause I didn’t wanna ride out the coat tails of KMD, so I’ll straight out like a new character, bang, to give the people something new for one, and at the same time gauge it to see like, “If I get good feedback on this then I know that these experimental like styles is worth doing as far as the people is concerned,” and it took off way more than I thought. So I kept repping it and Bob asked me to put out a whole album based on the reception to the singles, it wasn’t too much of a budget, but it was enough to live for a second and get the record done and st. So once Operation DOOMsday was done, by hook or crook, man like a lot of things was going on at the same time that could have prevented it from happening, but we all stuck together and helped each other out and finished the album, and that st right there was a milestone in my whole career, like that was one of the illest albums I’ve ever did. A lot of cats feel that way.

MFD: Word, that s**t, forget it. I still do songs from that s### on the road, and it steals the show every time. “Rhymes like Dimes,” it’s like, forget it, I couldn’t leave off the stage without playing that joint. King Geodorah, Viktor Vaughn, DOOM, Zeb Love…You take the aliases mad serious.

MFD: Oh, yeah, I take ‘em seriously, each of them need to be as distinct as possible. When I’m in Vic mode, I’m thinking from the perspective a 19 year-old cat. Now DOOM is the older cat. He’s a lot more reflective than Vic. See, I think a lot of the Hip Hop s**t is a little limited when it comes to MC’ing if you just stick to what you do everyday, it’s just different people talking about the same s### over and over. When I delve into a character like DOOM, he’s like a scientist, but he’s a b-boy too and he’s an older cat, there are just so many different angles I can play that at. So I’m not limited to my own regular, boring human existence. So I definitely dive into these characters even if I have to like detox myself. What role does the mask play?

MFD: The mask allows me to be the other character and when I’m in my real life I can just be me. I would hate to not be able to go to the grocery store without some cat being like, “Yo!” Also the mask allows me to get a clearer perspective of what the fans like, cause they will talk to me about it, ya know, they don’t know who I am, I just another n*gga in the record store. It also takes away all the fake whatever-you-look-like st in Hip-Hop. I think there’s too much of that physical st in Hip Hop nowadays, as far as what your crib look like, what car you driving, the kind of money you spending, and then it’s your rhymes and then it’s your beats. As a matter of fact, I think the rhymes come last and the beats even before that. When we was doing it rhymes came first, cause when you on the corner just rhyming wit ya man, there ain’t no beat anyway. So I take it back to the essence of rhyming yo. Can you see a future where you take the mask off and you’re just Daniel?

MFD: Only when I’m at home, only when I’m at the crib playing with the seeds. Anytime I’m on the microphone or I’ve got the mic in my hand I’ll have the mask on, forever. 100 percent no chance ever?

MFD: Nah, never, I’m keeping the mask. It’s such a part of me now I don’t think I could even do it without it. If I went out there without the mask on, muthafkas would be like, “Who the fk is you?” It’s almost like they expect to see the mask first, if I don’t rock the mask they might not believe it’s me. How was it working with Madlib on the Madvillain project?

MFD: This project was the most fun s**t. All of Mad’s beats was raw, so it wasn’t no problem choosing beats, it’s just that he had so many beats. We did the first part of the album in L.A. and I just wrote to the beats when I heard them, so it was kind of like freestyling, but writing it down. How did you link wit Madlib in the first place?

MFD: He heard Operation DOOMS Day, and him being a producer and an emcee and a well rounded musician, he appreciated the fact that I produced and rhymed and engineered all my sts, too. So he kind of reached out to me, and it was only suppose to be a little cameo on the new Quasimoto album, but we hit it off so good and we finished the st so quickly that we just said lets do an album. It’s like I’ve known Mad my whole life. Is it too early to talk about another Madvillain album?

MFD: There’s definitely a second Madvillain album in the works. He would send me a CD and it would have like a hundred beats on it (laughs). The CD would say like ‘150-250’, then I’d get another CD and it would say ‘250-350’. I got so many Madlib beats that I could do Madvillain albums from now until 2030, kid. You are considered an underground king, but if the situation was right, would you ever sign with a label like Roc-A-Fella?

MFD: Man…that’s a good question. Ya know right now I’m straight how I’m doing it – it’s like perfect. But if them cats was to step to me with the right number and the right creative control I probably would f**k wit a label like that. But at this point I get the music out like I need to get it out, anyway. What’s next in the DOOM saga?

MFD: The next DOOM album that’s produced by me, it’s like the follow up to DOOMsday. It’s called MM FOOD. It’s old school Hip-Hop beats mixed with the 80’s soul. Each song has something to do with food. Like one cut is called “Cookies,” and it references online p###. Ya know how when you download pictures and your hard drive saves it as a cookie, so the song is like analogies like ‘going into the cookie jar late at night’. So there’s sixteen cuts and each song references food and has a double meaning.