Feature Music

Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper: The Life of MF DOOM

By Olivia Waletzke

The 1990’s served as the Golden Age for hip hop, creating one of the most influential and creative artists of its time. Daniel Dumile, a British-American from Long Island, New York, used this time to expand on the idea of hip hop with his stage name, MF DOOM. In addition to DOOM, Dumile also created other names such as King Geedorah, Victor Vaughn, and Metal Face. He used these “characters” to sign under many of his solo albums. 

   Dumile began his music career in 1988 when he joined the Long Island rap group, KMD, with his brother, Dingilizwe. The group performed at many community events, with their satirical music being mainly about social issues and black empowerment. In the group, Dumile took on the stage name of Zev Love X, and was quickly noticed by other solo hip hop artists. After the death of his brother in 1993, KMD separated. 

    In 1998, Dumile emerged from his break in the music industry with a solo album called “Operation Doomsday,” using his most famous stage name, MF DOOM. In addition to his name change, the album started his wearing of a metal spartan mask, similar to that of a futuristic villain. This costume created the villainous character archetype used for all of his stage names. The mask was worn during performances to help his audience focus only on the art itself and not his physical appearance. Throughout the entirety of his career, Dumile never removed the silver apparatus. 

   His debut album features 19 tracks, five of them being skits. These skits last no longer than a minute, and aided Dumile’s development of his first character, an evil scientist going by the name of DOOM. Many of the tracks included snippets of skits coming from what sounds like an old timey science fiction movie. This trend continued through the majority of Dumile’s work, making it one of his defining traits in the hip-hop world. (On the track named Operation: Greenbacks, Dumile introduces his second character, King Geedorah, a three-headed alien from outer space that is destined to destroy planet Earth.)

“Just remember ALL CAPS when you spell the man name”

MF DOOM, on hit song All Caps

   With the partnership of underground rap group, Monsta Island Czars, the experimental album telling the story of King Geedorah’s arrival to Earth, “Take me to your Leader,” was born. Being one of the most unique albums in hip-hop history, each of the 13 tracks collectively make up another example of Dumile’s incredible ability to story-tell, mix sound, and create his own individual genre of music. “Take me to your Leader,” similar to “Operation Doomsday” and other albums by Dumile, includes three tracks with no verses of rapping at all. Instead, Dumile laces a beat with eerie instrumentals, and puts a variety of verbal skits over the music. Monster Zero is the control center for the album, taking on a tone of the Twilight Zone. Explaining the idea of King Geedorah, the skits portray an array of common-folk from a 60’s sci-fi movie reacting to the arrival of the monster. Listening to the track is an experience alone in addition to the album. The more musical tracks such as Next Levels and Fazers incorporate jazzy instrumentals, giving the album an overall nostalgic feeling for the past. 

   Entering the year of 2004, Dumile peaked in the music industry, dropping his most famous studio album, “MM..FOOD,” and collabing with emcee Madlib on the “Madvillainy” project. “MM..FOOD,” as the album title hints, derives its content straight from Dumile’s kitchen. Tracks on the album are all creatively titled with a food item, including songs like Gumbo, Kookies, and Deep Fried Frenz. The album deliciously blends groovy beats and retro skits to birth Dumile’s most upbeat and lively album of his career. Living in the album is Dumile’s world famous track, Rapp Snitch Knishes. Collaborative album, “Madvilliany” is also home to more of his most popular work such as Meat Grinder and All Caps. The project, although carrying the same general content of most DOOM albums, “Madvilliany” remains one of most memorable albums in Dumile’s career aside from “MM..FOOD.” On October 31st, 2020, Daniel Dumile passed away. The announcement was released on his wife’s Instagram a few months later, in late December. His cause of death was never released. At age 49, Dumile had already impacted the world by bringing a whole new light to rap and hip-hop. His style of music creating and producing still carries through other artists today, keeping the memory of DOOM in the hearts of the music industry. 


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