New York-raised rapper DOOM – formerly MF Doom, also known at various times as Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X, King Geedorah, Metal Fingers, and the Supervillain – is known mainly for being wilfully odd. He wears a metal mask on stage, parades an interest in comics and cartoons that borders on the obsessive, and recently responded to allegations he’d sent an impersonator to perform at several gigs by revealing that ‘Everything we do is villain style.’
Despite (or possibly because of) these efforts at obfuscation, the flexibly-monikered one has a dedicated following – primarily among the sort of rap fans who regard the Lil Waynes of this world as doing for hip-hop what the Chicxulub meteor impact did for dinosaurs. DOOM’s delivery is understated, without verbal fireworks and without hooky choruses – but his rhymes are wildly intricate and his subject matter easily as psychotic as everyone’s favourite New Orleans stoner. ‘Sick aim eyes stare at thick dame thighs,’ goes one flourish on ‘Rap Ambush’ – then ‘Click claim prize / And the lucky contestant was sent a whole year’s supply of buckets of yucky excrement.’
To accompany his uncomplicated beats, DOOM likes long dialogue samples, snippets of movies and recordings of phone calls. These tricks have been old since 1993. But even unsurprising productions are cheered up by a broad lyrical palette, and he even cracks a smiles from time to time. ‘Turn dirt to dollars like Don Henley’, he suggests, ‘Ugly and still get hollas like Ron Jeremy.’ DOOM is often touted as a purists’ rapper; but tracks like ‘Ballskin’ and ‘Gazzillion Ear’ are accessible, too. Like chess, maybe, Born Like This might be hard to master – but it’s easy to play.