The man behind the mask, MF Doom, is back, dropping the official follow-up to 1999's Operation: Doomsday, even though he has released many albums since then (three others in 2004 alone) under his assorted network of aliases (Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, Madvillain). Victuals are the theme on Mm..Food (Rhymesayers), with each track keyed into some kind of edible and the record layout like a menu for a place that serves up beef, beer and beats in hearty portions. Nashville's Count Bass-D pulls kitchen duty on "Potholders," paring down the grand collages that Doom crafts to emphasize the lyrical gamesmanship as well as his own more organic beats, and to great effect. Whenever Bass-D drops his forthcoming full-length, the expectations will be suitably high.
Featuring only three guest artists, Mm..Food qualifies as an act of subversion in today's cameo-happy hip-hop. Adept at taking strings and things and making them work harder than anyone thought they could, Doom comes at you like the illest dim sum chef around, tweaking hip-hop conventions ("Rapp Snitch Knishes" with Mr. Fantastik, "Hoe Cakes") and making them play by his rules. Even the recurrent chunks from old Fantastic Four adventures mesh beautifully with the soundscapes he lays out, offering listeners villainy and Epicureanism, prepared stylishly and with maximum funk.
Doom's latest sits comfortably among food-themed hip-hop marvels like Ugly Duckling's Taste the Secret and the Kool Keith/Dr. Dooom project First Come, First Served. There is something about the way that food is seen, obtained and sold in this country that lends itself to comparisons to the way that hip-hop is commodified. It's not too surprising, then, that this subgenre has been responsible for some terrific records, and in Doom's quest for vengeance on the music industry that disfigured him, Mm..Food is a buffet-style serving of playful and righteous science.
What continually enthralls about Doom's aesthetic is his joy in joining things together, which, on a showstopper like "Hoe Cakes," means taking what sounds like an Anita Baker intro and playing ping-pong on it with a one-word sample from J.J. Fadd's "Supersonic." Doom's sound takes the gleaner ideology of sampling and applies it lovingly to his creations, gathering musical accompaniment from all over the world of sound, tying it together with a flow that deserves whatever accolades can be thrown his way.
It is a disgrace that MCs with flows as weak as Young Buck and Fifty Cent are among the biggest-selling artists of the year and a lyrical madman like Doom is considered obscure. A track like "Deep Fried Frenz" is as accessible as any of P. Diddy's loop fests, its Whodini samples recognizable and part of the song's structure, though everything Doom gets his metal-gloved hands on becomes something refreshing.
So long Don. Your creative energy and encouragement were inspirational to me.
It was so great being one of those kids in Dayton.
I miss Iodine.
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Wonderful tribute to a wonderful man.