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MF DOOM

AKA: Zev Love X, Doom, and Supervillain

About MF DOOM

The Best MC with no chain ya ever heard!

MF DOOM is an English-born American underground hip hop artist, best known for his “super villain” stage persona and unique lyrics and lyrical abilities.

Born Daniel Dumile, in 1988 he formed the group K.M.D.—which stands for “Kuasing Much Damage”—with his brother, DJ Subroc. At the time, his stage name was Zev Love X. KMD was eventually signed to Elektra after some minor hype, and they released one album titled Mr. Hood. Before the release of their second album, Black Bastards, Subroc was struck and killed by a car in 1993.

After his brother’s death, Dumile quit rapping and lived on benches for three years. He soon began rapping underground with his now iconic mask:

The mask was based off of a prop mask from the film Gladiator. In 1998, DOOM told Ego Trip, “it’s music we’re selling, not my face.”

You can see how DOOM’s mask changed through the years here!

Dumile then adopted the identity MF DOOM, based off of Marvel supervillian Doctor Doom—whose name is always spelled in all capital letters in the comic books, which is why you always spell MF DOOM in all caps!

Just remember ALL CAPS when you spell the man name

Although, he told an interviewer that the name was actually a nickname from his mother:

Yeah and for the record I didn’t get the idea from [Doctor Doom]… [laughs]. I been Doom ever since I was born, my momma call me Doom so…

In 1999, DOOM released his debut solo album, Operation: Doomsday. The album had three singles: “Dead Bent,” “Operation: Greenbacks,” and “The M.I.C.”

For his next album, Take Me To Your Leader, DOOM introduced a new moniker, King Geedorah. After that, he released Vaudeville Villain and Venomous Villain under the moniker Viktor Vaughn.

In 2004, under the name MF DOOM, he released MM.. FOOD—an anagram of MF DOOM. His last solo album, Born Like This, mostly fell under the radar, but is nonetheless a solid project. It spawned multiple classic songs, such as “Gazzillion Ear,” “Ballskin” and the lyrically inclined “That’s That.”

DOOM received critical acclaim for his 2004 collaboration with producer Madlib, Madvillainy. With a 93/100 score on Metacritic, and praise from hip-hop legends, Madvillainy is known as one of the best rap albums of all time. DOOM told an interviewer why he likes collaborations:

It just makes it fun cos there’s another person there with another artistic point of view. If it’s a producer it makes my job easier, I don’t have to think about the beat and the rhyme which is kinda tricky. I can let them have their vision with the beat and then do my rhyme. Let them mix the song, see it how they see it and maybe change one or two things, but it makes it good.

I love collaborating, I’m a team player. I love it when I’m working with other artists and see how they get down and exchanging ideas, it’s fun.

During his rap career, DOOM has used a plethora of aliases and monikers:

  • MF DOOM
  • DOOM
  • Metal Face Doom
  • Viktor Vaughn
  • King Geedorah
  • Metal Fingers
  • Zev Love X (with the group KMD)
  • Closer (with Madlib)
  • DANGERDOOM (with Danger Mouse)
  • DOOMSTARKS (with Ghostface Killah)
  • JJ DOOM (with Jneiro Jarel)
  • NehruvianDOOM (with Bishop Nehru)

Luckily, Genius has a tag that houses all of DOOM’s aliases, monikers, and collaborations here.

Each character has his own established personality, as DOOM explained:

Their styles tend to be similar, people might say ‘damn Vik you sound like DOOM’ and Vik don’t like that so he’s like ‘fuck DOOM!’ you know? DOOM is getting more attention or whatever. But that’s something I’m also playing on, they got little rivalries going on. It’s going to come out later on a little more. I try to keep them pretty much straight forward, this way each album, each character, is its own experience.

Q: The characters allow you to not reinvent yourself all the time. You can still be DOOM but do it differently through a different character.

Exactly.

Also an established (and amazing) producer, DOOM has released multiple compilation albums of his beats, like the Special Herbs series. He spoke about his producing/songwriting process in an interview:

What I usually do when I’m producing a record, I’ll come up with the beat first… And then the beat will inspire the lyrics, you know what I’m sayin'? So, in that particular example [“Beef Rapp”] that was the main song, that song defined the record, […] so I came up with that particular song first. Everything else spawned from there.

I heard the loop first, cut the loop, put the drums to it, polish it up with the 808s, but I don’t really over-do it too much… I like to try to keep it as close to the original as possible. Leave something for the imagination, but enough to get the translation across. Then just write to it, keep it simple.

Using his JJ DOOM collaboration album as an example, DOOM explained the process behind his iconic, obscure TV dialogue samples and skits:

Q: The way the sampling works on the album, specifically the intro, skits and the use of vocal snippets throughout, that really reminds me of you. It reminds me of the King Geedorah project for example. Was that part of the album something you looked after?

Yeah I definitely… well you know we spoke about it like ‘it definitely needs to have skits on it’ and JJ would be like ‘yo DOOM you need to put some skits on there’ and I was like ‘yeah I got some stuff, I got some stuff’. But I had to wait until the last minute because collecting these voices is not as easy as it sounds [laughs]. I gotta watch hours and hours of old vintage footage, listen to hours and hours of lectures.

I’m sleeping while playing this shit, listening, and then in the third hour of some long lecture it’ll say the right word. So then it’s like ‘oh shit there it is!’ Wake up and look at the timer, note the time when it happened and go back to sleep. When I wake up I’ll find it again and chop it and put it in. It’s a real tedious process, but as I’m writing songs I’m collecting pieces, and I’m collecting pieces that pertain to the songs, and then I condense them and make the story. I like to put an intro so people get a feel for what’s going on. It sets the tone, almost like scenery.

You might wonder how he finds all of these samples, and he talked about that too:

Q: I remember reading in a previous interview that you’d spent hours collecting stuff, I think you were talking about King Geedorah again. So despite having done that for years, and I’m assuming collecting a fairly sizeable library of samples, you’re still at it?

Yup, yup. It’s entertaining, you know? I don’t watch TV but I do that all day. I be cleaning the house and playing some obscure, weird shit. And it’ll be fun stuff, I bump into some interesting things.

An old-fashioned man, DOOM doesn’t have any social media accounts. His verified Twitter account only has one tweet: “DOOM IS NOT ON TWITTER.”

“They got the Facebook site, but it’s more like a fan site. I never looked at this shit. I’m not on Twitter. I’m trying to get a old beeper matter of fact, a sky pager. I’m trying to go back to that, do the upside down texting. I’m old school, so I keep it to the way it was. I like to stay… it keeps me focused.

I think a lot of that stuff over sensitises everything. You get lost. It’s noise, like ‘ka ka ka ka ka’. […] People get caught up in what other people think about them, so much. But what do you think about yourself? Do you think about yourself as much as what you think other people are thinking about you? So… that’s something that should be…