A Tribute to MF DOOM
Daniel Dumile carried many aliases throughout his musical career. Madvillain, King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn etc. However the alias that he will forever be remembered by, the name that ripples throughout hip-hop and influenced some of the genre’s greatest artists… is MF DOOM.
Daniel’s musical roots can be traced back to 1988 when him and his brother, DJ Subroc along with Rodan founded a hip-hop trio known as KMD. Starting as a graffiti crew in Long Beach, New York, it didn’t take them long until they released their debut album in 1991, Mr. Hood. The album focused on racism and black empowerment in a comical way, cutting samples from children’s shows such as Sesame Street.
Just before KMD released their second album in 1993, Black Bastards, Daniel’s brother was hit by a car and killed. Elektra Records, the label that managed KMD, decided that their second album’s name and art were too controversial for them and dropped the group, a decision made in the same week Daniel’s brother died. Daniel went into retreat, disappearing and spending the next 4 years wandering the streets of New York with the threat of homelessness hanging over him as he slept through long nights on park benches.
In 1997 Daniel finally returned to music performing at open mic events with a mask on. It was at this moment that the legend MF DOOM was born, his mask resembling that of Marvel’s supervillain, Doctor Doom. From this moment on, it’s extremely hard to find an image of Daniel without his mask. Daniel felt that the genre was dominated by artists obsessed with the way they looked and presented themselves and he wanted to show a message that he only cared about the artistry of music.
In 1999 MF DOOM released his debut album, Operation Doomsday. It’s extremely difficult to find a list of top hip-hop albums without Operation Doomsday being mentioned. From Wu Tang’s harsh and gritty lyrics to Tribe’s smooth jazz beats, MF DOOM managed to carve his own path in the genre at the time with his mix of extremely unconventional beats and smart wordplay that somehow worked flawlessly together. MF DOOM’s debut album served as a template for not just himself but for hip-hop as a whole, influencing the future works of artists such as Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler the Creator.
In 2003 Daniel released another album under the alias King Geedorah, Take Me To Your Leader. It featured guest appearances from MF Grimm, a member from the underground super group, Monsta Island Czars, with their gimmick being named after creatures from the Godzilla films. It was also the year that Daniel would release another album under another alias, Viktor Vaughn. Vaudeville Villain showed a different side to Daniel, ditching his goofy comic influence for something much more gritty and violent.
In 2004 Daniel released his second album as MF DOOM called MM…Food. It’s often cited as DOOM’s greatest album and it’s difficult to disagree. Tracks such as One Beer, Beef Rap and Rapp Snitch Knishes proved that MF DOOM wasn’t scared to push himself musically. 4 albums in and it was clear that Daniel hadn’t lost a single bit of energy since his debut and he showed no sign of stopping.
MF DOOM’s relentless energy would lead him to his next album, Madvillainy, released under the group name Madvillain alongside producer Madlib. Madlib and MF DOOM proved to be a fantastic pairing, with DOOM rapping over some of his most unconventional beats yet. Madvillainy proved to be unfriendly to commercial radio however it’s obscure lyrics and sparse choruses made way for it to hit critical acclaim. MF DOOM had suddenly been launched into a mainstream audience receiving acclaim from publications such as Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
A second Madvillainy album was announced in 2009 but was never released, suffering from constant delays. 2009 was also the year that Daniel would release the third album under his MF DOOM alias, Born Like This. It managed to be the first album from DOOM to chart in the US. It would also be the last main album from the MF DOOM alias.
The years following showed MF DOOM taking a backseat. He was still heavily involved in the genre but it was clear that he was starting to take a mentor position, appearing in features and collaborations such as 2014’s NehruvianDOOM, showing MF DOOM backing and guiding fellow rapper Bishop Nehru.
On December 18th 2017, Daniel announced that his son, King Malachi Ezekiel Dumile, had passed away at the age of 14.
“King Malachi Ezekiel Dumile 2/22/03 – 12/18/17. The greatest son one could ask for. Safe journey and may all our ancestors greet you with open arms. One of our greatest inspirations. Thank you for allowing us to be your parents. Love you Mali.”
Despite this tragedy MF DOOM and supergroup Czarface, including the talent of Wu Tang member Inspectah Deck, would release a collaborative album, Czarface Meets Metal Face in March 2018. Later that year in December DOOM released Doom Xmas, an album with DOOM’s obscure bars thrown over Christmas remixes. Daniel had a relentless passion for music and the artistry that surrounded it. It’s genuinely baffling looking back through his discography to see just how energetic he was and it’s inspiring to see that after 20+ years, he showed no signs of slowing down.
However on October 31st 2020, Daniel Dumile sadly passed away with his wife Jasmine posting an announcement two months later on New Years Eve.
The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for. Thank you for all the things you have shown, taught and given to me, our children and our family. Thank you for teaching me how to forgive beings and give another chance, not to be so quick to judge and write off. Thank you for showing how not to be afraid to love and be the best person I could ever be. My world will never be the same without you. Words will never express what you and Malachi mean to me, I love both and adore you always. May THE ALL continue to bless you, our family and the planet.
All my Love,
I don’t know what hurt worse, seeing the news or reading the hundreds of messages left by fellow artists who had either worked with him or had been influenced by his art.
I remember accidentally running into MF DOOM’s insane discography when I was 15 and ever since then he’s been one of my personal heroes. MF DOOM proved to the world that you don’t need to follow trends to make it in life. Even though he enjoyed presenting himself as a comical supervillain, I would personally refer to him as a superhero. Not only did he change the way I view music, he also paved the way for artists such as Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Bada$$, Tyler the Creator, Logic, Odd Future, Danny Brown… the list goes on and on.
Here’s to one of music’s greatest supervillains. You introduced me to a discography full of talent and wonder that I’ll be listening to and sharing around for years to come. It’s so exciting to see the path that you’ve left for thousands of future artists to follow. You’ve done so much for the genre and you’ve left millions inspired including myself. You taught me that it’s okay to stand out and to make my own way in life regardless of what people think. I hope you realised just how much you meant to everyone. Now you can finally rest alongside your son and brother.
Safe travels villain.
“Ever since the womb ‘til I’m back where my brother went, that’s what my tomb will say. Right above my government; Dumile. Either unmarked or engraved, hey, who’s to say?”