It seems quite fitting for Hip Hop’s supervillain to pass on Halloween. MF DOOM has always been a figure that embraced the mystery of his character, and for two months, no one had any idea that he was at rest. Just two weeks ago, instrumental group BADBADNOTGOOD dropped a collaboration with DOOM, and had fans ecstatic to hear his hoarse, gravelly voice over a new track. But, no one knew at the time of release that he had shockingly passed.
The most unpredictable end to an awful year was the death of one of the greatest Hip Hop artists of all time. Maybe because he seemed so much larger than life, pioneering, influencing, and leaving his mark with every release.
He reached rappers in every lane of the genre. Tweets flooded in two nights ago from Lupe Fiasco, Lil B, Earl Sweatshirt, and JPEGMAFIA to name a few. A Tribe Called Quest veteran, Q Tip stated “RIP to another Giant your favorite MC’s MC .. MF DOOM!!”. That may just be DOOM’s legacy – with his odd, unique delivery, wordplay and production, he never had a hit single or platinum album, but he was truly the leader of underground rap, and left his mark on passionate music fans and aspiring artists.
DOOM’s signature mask has become as important to Hip Hop imagery as the Wu Tang Clan logo, or Coogie sweaters. His persona and style made him an even more crucial figure in the genre. One of the few artists to boast multiple classics under numerous aliases. His complex lyricism and conceptual approach to albums changed how we see experimental Hip Hop, making him a true pioneer of alternative rap music.
Most well known for his collaboration with Madlib, Madvillainy saw one of the greatest MC’s collide with one of the most acclaimed producers. The 2004 album was released by Stones Throw Records, and remains the benchmark for forward thinking Hip Hop albums released this century.
DOOM never gained American citizenship, despite growing up in New York. He was born in London and will forever be one of the best rappers to be born in the UK, or worldwide for that matter. Daniel Dumile was one of the most important artists of the 21st century, and his impact will be felt for decades to come.
MF DOOM had hundreds of quotable lines, a personal favourite being “only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck and still keep your attitude on self destruct”. He found a way to balance humour with social commentary, and always keep his audience thinking. It’s hard to choose a favourite from MF DOOM’s near flawless catalogue. Operation: Doomsday, Mm.. Food, Madvillain, and Vaudeville Villain’s legacies will be solidified on the shelves of record stores and greatest album lists.
Without MF DOOM, we may have never seen Danny Brown, Odd Future, or Pro Era’s peaks, we may have never got Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s Pinata, and we certainly wouldn’t be living in a golden age of independent, experimental rappers. No obituary can summarise how imperative Dumile was, and why his impact was so necessary for Hip Hop to grow. At 49 years old, he did more than most musicians could dream of. Rest in peace to Hip Hops very own comic book character, just remember, ALL CAPS when you spell the man's name. Listen to Lupe Fiasco’s tribute to MF DOOM here:
WRITTEN BY JAY FULLARTON