MF Doom, Masked Rapper With Intricate Rhymes, Is Dead at 49


Daniel Dumile, the masked rapper who appeared as MF Doom and built a lasting underground fan base with his fancy pun and comic book personality, died on October 31, his family announced on Thursday. He was 49 years old.

The rapper’s record label, Rhymesayers, provided the statement, which was signed by Mr. Dumiles’ wife, Jasmine. The label gave no details of a cause of death or why the information was released two months later.

Through six solo albums released between 1999 and 2009, and five joint LPs (with Madlib and Danger Mouse among others) between 2004 and 2018, Mr Dumile refined a style that was complicated and imaginative, drawing both esoteric and insignificant references to comic book Images in texts that could be touchingly emotional.

Mr Dumile was born in London and raised on Long Island. He grew up in early hip hop influences. He made his debut in 1989 on the 3rd bass track “The Gas Face” with an outstanding cameo that helped him get a record deal for his own group, KMD, in which he rapped as Zev Love X. The act included his brother Dingilizwe, who went by the name of DJ Subroc and his first album “Mr. Hood ”arrived in 1991 with the major label Elektra. Subroc was killed in a car accident while recording KMD’s second album, Black Bastards, and the label later declined to release the record. Mr. Dumile went underground, disappeared from the entertainment business, but continued to work privately on music while raising his son.

In 1997 he reappeared with the single “Dead Bent”, his first song under the name Metal Face Doom. (The persona was a nod to Marvel villain Doctor Doom.) Around the time the album Operation: Doomsday was released in 1999, which featured a masked figure on the cover, he first began to cover his face in public hide with a stocking mask and later with the metal mask that became his signature.

In a 2009 interview with The New Yorker, Mr Dumile said the mask was necessary when he made the jump from the studio to the stage. “I wanted to go on stage and talk without people thinking about the normal things people think about,” he said. “A picture always makes a first impression. But if there was a first impression, I might as well use it to control the story. So why not put on something like a mask? “

Mr. Dumile’s albums, once an underground cult figure, made him better known in the mid-1980s. “Madvillainy”, released in 2004 with producer Madlib, was a breakthrough. “It delivers long, freely associative verse full of sideways jumps and unexpected twists,” wrote popular music critic Kelefa Sanneh in the New York Times, reviewing a 2004 concert. “You think you know where it’s going and what each sentence will mean when it ends. Then it bends. “

On “Raid”, a track from “Madvillainy”, he rhymes:

Trippin ‘, to this day the Metal Fellow has rippin’ flows
Since New York plates were ghetto yellow
With broken blue font, that’s too exciting
People skip the show and really feel enlightened

His album “MM .. FOOD” (an anagram of his artist name), released in the same year, contained titles such as “Gumbo”, “Kon Queso” and “Kon Karne”. In 2004, when Mr Dumile raped the apparently banal subject of food with stupidity and wit, he said to Spin that he “shows respect for human life”.

“I’m more of a writer than a freestyler,” Dumile told The Chicago Tribune that same year. “I like to design my things and consider myself an author.”

Mr. Dumile was tapping under various roles and was later known for sending cheaters on stage to perform for fans. In his typical metal mask, it was difficult to tell the difference. The body often doubles up on disappointed fans, but sparked viral moments online when it was discovered that an obvious MF Doom appearance at a concert was comedian Hannibal Buress.

Though he never reached the mainstream superstar, Mr. Dumile was widely admired by fellow rappers and producers and a loyal following of fans. He was “your favorite MCs MC,” wrote A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip on Twitter. In a post on Instagram El-P wrote: “Thanks for always keeping it weird and raw. You have inspired us all and always will. “

In 2017, Mr Dumile announced on social media that his son, King Malachi Ezekiel Dumile, had died at the age of 14. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

Caryn Ganz contributed to the coverage.