The Villain of Hip-Hop: MF DOOM

Armando Gimenez ’22

On October 31, 2020, Hip-Hop lost one of its most enigmatic figures, MF Doom. Daniel Dumile, most commonly known as MF Doom, would come to spawn a massive cult following with works that would challenge conceptions of Hip-Hop and its boundaries. Constantly surprising and testing Hip-Hop, MF Doom made a name for himself as an unpredictable independent artist that would expand the genre with albums such as, “Operation Doomsday,” Mm…Food,” and “Madvillainy.”

First starting his career with the name Zev Lov X as part of a trio called K.M.D along with his brother, Dumile achieved minor success in the early 1990s. Dumile would come to retreat from the public eye, when his brother, known as DJ Subroc, died in a car accident, causing the disbandment of the group. Like a phoenix from the ashes, Dumile would resurface in the later half of the decade with a villainous new persona, MF Doom.

Debuting as a solo independent artist, MF Doom released “Operation: Doomsday” in 1999. Under the alias Metal Fingers, Dumile produced his first album himself. “Operation: Doomsday” shook the status quo with its bravaticy to step out of mainstream Hip-Hop. “Operation: Doomsday” featured Dumile’s iconic toneless figure of speech spawning seamlessly woven lines of complex rhythm, as well multiple culture references of the time. MF Doom would maintain his mystery through his irregular stream of collaborations, instrumentals, and side projects under another alias called Viktor Vaughn.

MF Doom would come to prominence in 2004 with the releases of “Mm…Food” and “Madvillainy.” “Mm…Food” took everything that was great about “Doomsday” and expanded on it with the integration of various samples and soft yet profound beats. Despite “Mm…Food’s” productive genius, its predecessor is more famously known for its inventive and absurd bars that are unforgettable by any means. “Madvillainy,” a chemical explosion ignited with the collab of Dumile and a California producer Madlib, lays as Dumile’s most iconic work, as Rolling Stone would come to include it on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Despite this upcoming success, Dumile never ceased to remain true to himself and to MF Doom. MF Doom would remain “villainous” throughout his career, as he notoriously sent people to mask themselves as him in his own concerts, lip-syncing throughout the whole event. MF Doom desired to leave an impact through his work and personas, and we can surely say he did. 

With the fall of this Hip-Hop icon, we have to remember his impact. As a villain, Doom strove to reveal the hypocrisies of society, relationships, and culture. MF Doom provided art to the world that would ease the heart with an intricate volley of bars that sought to reveal truth. With his passing, MF DOOM will be remembered throughout Hip-Hop history as an underground legend.