MF Doom Influenced Scores of Musicians. Hear 11 of Them.
Daniel Dumile, the reclusive musician who appeared as the masked villain MF Doom, died on October 31 at 4 p.m., although the news did not become known until New Year’s Eve. Dumile spent more than two decades as one of the most famous and beloved artists in underground hip-hop, a rapper known for his unexpected word choices and intricate rhyme stacks.
However, Dumile’s influence went way beyond his formidable microphone skills. He hid his face behind a metal mask during public appearances – if he showed up for her at all – and separated his words from himself, rarely in a genre characterized by self-glorification and diaristical writing. His loyalty to independent labels like Stones Throw, Rhymesayers, Lex, Nature Sounds and Epitaph has paved a way through the established machines of the music industry. His beatmaking was idiosyncratic and he tried quiet storm records of the 80s instead of the hard funk of the 70s. He played the MPC sampler in a way that revealed the seams. “Madvillainy”, his groundbreaking collaboration with producer Madlib as Madvillain in 2004, dispensed with traditional songcraft for a psychedelic, dreamlike vortex of ideas.
His influence can be seen in the performance of musicians who have worked simultaneously over the past two decades – rappers, singers, and producers both inside and outside the hip-hop world. Here are 11 examples of how Doom’s aesthetic choices infiltrated the artistic impulses of several generations.
Aesop Rock, “Flashflood” (2001)
With three 12-inch singles released on Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ‘Em Records in the late 1990s, MF Doom was part of an early wave of “underground hip-hop” musicians that purists recorded with independent beats and rhymes Labels between 1997 and 2004. At that time Dumile was already a major label victim. He appeared as Zev Love X in the group KMD in the early 90s and was dropped by Elektra in a controversy over the trio’s burn album. His early songs reinvented himself as MF Doom, showing that there was a sustainable way outside the system. The rapper Aesop Rock grew up on KMD and his music similarly navigates through labyrinthine patterns, pop culture detritus and SAT vocabulary. He became one of the signature acts on two labels that were the flag bearers of mid-00 underground rap, El-P’s Definitive Jux and Atmosphere’s Rhymesayers. In a verse about a recent MF Doom tribute, Aesop claims to have sold its 1999 demo outside of a Doom show at Brownie’s closed East Village Club.
Ghostface Killah with Wu Tang Clan, ‘9 Milli Bros.’ (2006)
Back when the lines between underground and mainstream hip-hop became much thicker, it was unheard of for a platinum-def-jam artist like Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang clan to break away from the lo-fi, gritty, underground Recover noise from beatmakers like MF Doom and J Dilla. Ghostface picked some beats from Doom’s 10-volume “Special Herbs” series for his fifth album “Fishscale” and not only amplified Doom’s unbalanced rhythmic genius, but also earned critical recognition. “He’s a great artist,” Ghostface told Mass Appeal in 2005. “He’s like me in a way, very creative.”
Thom Yorke, “Black Swan” (2006)
“In the end, it’s not rapping at all for me, it’s poetry,” Radiohead’s Thom Yorke told Dazed of his favorite rapper. “The way he freely shapes his verses and puts everything together, I don’t think anyone else would.” In 2007, between the release of his acclaimed, amorphous, beatwise solo debut “The Eraser” and Radiohead’s acclaimed, amorphous, beatwise seventh album, “In Rainbows”, Yorke released a playlist of 10 current favorites. Two of them contained Doom’s rhymes.
Danny Brown, “Adderall Admiral” (2011)
“I never thought that you could do a whole album without hooks and make it sound this good,” Danny Brown told Complex about one of his favorite LPs, “Madvillainy”. “This album showed me that music has no rules. Before, I thought you needed 16 bars and hooks to make a good song. “Thanks to his uncompromising vision, Brown has become one of the most successful underground rappers in the last 10 years. His breakthrough, “XXX” from 2011, had elaborate songs and spiraling slivers like “Adderall Admiral”, a 103-second melody based on a particularly loud sample by the post-punk band This Heat.
The Weeknd, ‘Loft Music’ (2012)
The Super Bowl’s Super Bowl, which stars at halftime, is an avowed MF Doom fan who featured it on Instagram and recently paid tribute to it with a few songs on its Apple Music radio show. Though the Weeknd is doing more hedonistic R&B with a retro flavor, it’s hard to imagine that born Abel Tesfaye didn’t learn a lesson about building mystique from the metal-faced rapper. Tesfaye originally had a breakthrough after releasing songs like “Loft Music” with complete anonymity in 2010. He recently performed with bandaged and prosthetic faces.
Earl Sweatshirt, “Chum” (2013)
When the then young rapper Earl Sweatshirt went viral in 2010, his lyrics were full of insane assonance and crazy images: “Twisted, sicker than crazy beasts, I actually have six different liqueurs with a Prince wig. “It’s no surprise that he studied Doom and ultimately helped build a small rap empire with the Odd Future collective. Songs like “Chum” revolve not only with Doom’s sophisticated word-finding, but also with his dazed, dazed moods. “I relied on myself in many ways in trying to rape his [expletive] when I learned how to do it, ”Earl told guerrilla interviewer Nardwuar in 2014.
Jinsang, “Affection” (2016)
A small branch of “chill-hop” artists has made downtempo flair atmospheric beats best known for the internet popularity of “Lofi Hip Hop Radio – Beats for Relaxing / Learning”. While the Lo-Fi Hip-Hop subgenre is mostly inspired by Detroit sample innovator J Dilla and Japan’s jazz-spotted nujabes, it owes much to Dumile’s instrumental series, Special Herbs, which was recorded as Metal Fingers. As a producer, he often painted with nostalgic and dreamy tools, borrowing R&B, jazz-funk, soft rock and sade. Although California beatmaker Jinsang is relatively unknown, this song has more than 61 million streams on Spotify.
Open Mike Eagle, “No Sale (Uncle Butch Pretends It Doesn’t Harm)” (2017)
Los Angeles Open rapper Open Mike Eagle admired Doom’s ability to succeed with the things he loved most about rap: “The freedom to sample and rhyme over every loop that appeals to you,” said Eagle to Vice. “To be motivated to get as crazy as possible with the pun.” Eagle is known for his tricky punch lines – he briefly had a Comedy Central show where Doom did a rap for Episode 2. And like Doom, Eagle isn’t afraid to grapple with big concepts or step outside of it. On his critically acclaimed LP Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, he raps truths and fictions about Chicago’s notoriously poorly managed Robert Taylor Homes housing project.
Your old Droog, ‘Grandma Hips’ (2017)
Perhaps no modern rapper embodies Doom’s penchant for tangled references and architectural rhyme schemes better than Brooklyn’s Your Old Droog, a man who once boasted, “While I made sure every bar is tough / you played herbs, Pokémon and chased Charizard.” As his career began, Droog Doom took Doom’s seclusion to heart, leading to an internet conspiracy theory that he was actually Nas in disguise. “I don’t want to walk around like this rapper all the time,” he told Spin of his early decision to remain anonymous. “I learned that from my favorite rapper MF Doom – how he approached it and conducted interviews. People are involved in these characters and believe that they are. “
KeiyaA, “Way Eye” (2020)
“DOOM was my favorite MC and producer,” Chicago avant R&B writer KeiyaA wrote on Twitter, adding that he “really showed me a new kind of emotion, how to be honest in my expressions, how to build worlds. ” Her debut, “Forever, Ya Girl!”, Has a bit of Doom’s homemade grit in its lo-fi textures and sample pileups.
Westside Gunn with Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, ‘George Bondo’ (2020)
Contemporary underground rap explodes with rhymes that work in the same model as Doom circa “Madvillainy”: high-tech bars rattle, often delivered with effortless coolness. Two of his late 90s colleagues – Roc Marciano and Ka – restarted each other about a decade ago, and there was no shortage of ice cold precisionists. The most popular right now is Buffalo’s Griselda collective, which includes Conway the Machine, Benny the Butcher, and Westside Gunn who collaborated with Doom on a 12-inch two-song song in 2017. On “George Bondo” Benny the Butcher raps: I think it’s a game until I homie Patrick Kane / That pushes through with a stick and shoots you off the goalkeeper. “