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Review

Rapper breaks silence with self produced return

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April 16, 2009

The legendary underground rapper, Daniel Dumile, most commonly known as MF DOOM, is just about as “un-commercial” as any hip-hop artist who has generated such devotional critical praise can possibly be.

He has gone by many aliases (Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X, Metal Fingers and Supervillan among them), but has almost never been spotted in public without his trademark silver face-concealing mask. After a career marked by his ability to churn out albums like clockwork, the voice of the enigmatic British emcee has been silent since his 2006 collaboration with the up-and-coming DJ Danger Mouse.

“Born Like This,” Dumile’s self-produced 2009 return, is described by its creator as being DOOM’s “definitive album, encapsulating but surpassing all of his previous work and influences under various monikers.”

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the character of DOOM was inspired by the Marvel Comics supervillain, Dr. Doom (which explains the mask). Dumile has established a rock-solid reputation as one of the most unpredictable, quirky and rare beatsmiths in the hip-hop universe. He is articulate to such a startling degree that he has moved past the pedestrian act of rhyming words with words. A true master craftsman of the English language, Dumile shows his ability to seemingly fuse each individual phoneme and syllable.

The lines, “More rhyming, pure diamond, tore hymen, poor timing / Raw lining, Paul Simon touring…I’m in,” give just a small taste of what he has to offer.
DOOM blasts off from the very beginning with his sandy flow and bizarre stream-of-consciousness rhymes.

The first track, “Gazillion Ear,” is peppered with a trippy Giorgio Moroder sample and overflows with nonstop nonsensical verbal aptitude. “Once sold an inbred skinhead a nigga joke / Plus a brand new chrome smokin’ with the triggers broke,” Dumile mentions in passing.

The track “Cellz,” features an excerpt from the Charles Burkowski poem, “Dinosaura, We,” which the title of the album is taken from. Repetitive and haunting, the steady cadence radiates with foreboding authority. 

The bitingly hilarious “Batty Boys” unexpectedly questions the sexual orientation of many iconic superheroes, including Batman and Robin: “Alfred come home and found them both naked / Handcuffed to each other just as he had suspected.” This is followed up by a comically witty line mentioning that Aquaman may be literally “sleeping with the fishes.”

There are hundreds of brilliantly quotable one-liners to be found amid the 17-track layout, proving that DOOM still possess the sharpest wit, one of the brightest minds, and the most far-reaching pop culture universe of discourse of any artist.

It’s a little difficult to categorize this album or place it among his existing library of eccentric classics, but one thing that remains clear is that DOOM marches to his own beat, and listeners should consider it a privilege to follow along.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.