MF DOOM performing in November 2011
|Birth name||Daniel Dumile|
|Also known as|
|Born||January 9, 1971|
|Origin||New York City|
Daniel Dumile (// DOOM-ee-lay; born January 9, 1971), better known by several stage names, most notably MF Doom (stylized as MF DOOM), is a British rapper, songwriter, and record producer best known for his "super villain" stage persona and rhyme-dense, humorous lyrical style.
MF Doom's mask, similar to that of Russell Crowe's titular character from the film Gladiator, is depicted rapping on the cover of the 1999 album Operation: Doomsday. MF Doom has appeared in several collaborative projects such as Madvillain (with Madlib), Danger Doom (with Danger Mouse), Doomstarks (with Ghostface Killah), JJ Doom (with Jneiro Jarel), NehruvianDoom (with Bishop Nehru), and Czarface Meets Metal Face (with Czarface).
Dumile was born on 9 January 1971 in London, England, the son of a Trinidadian mother and a Rhodesian father. His family moved to Long Island, New York, when he was a child; Dumile remains a British citizen and has not gained American citizenship.
1988–1993: Career beginnings with KMD
As Zev Love X he formed the group KMD in 1988 with his younger brother DJ Subroc and another MC called Rodan. When Rodan left the group, Zev found another MC, Onyx the Birthstone Kid, to replace Rodan. Artists and repertoire representative Dante Ross learned of KMD through the hip hop group 3rd Bass and signed the group to Elektra Records. Dumile and KMD's recording debut came on 3rd Bass's song "The Gas Face" from The Cactus Album, followed in 1991 with KMD's album Mr. Hood, which became a minor hit through its singles "Peachfuzz", "Who Me?" and heavy video play on cable TV's Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City.
In 1993, just before the release of the second KMD album, Black Bastards, Subroc was struck by a car and killed while attempting to cross the Nassau Expressway, and that same week the group was dropped from Elektra Records. The album was shelved before it was released due to its controversial cover art, which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or sambo character being hanged. After the death of his brother, Dumile retreated from the hip hop scene from 1994 to 1997, living "damn near homeless, walking the streets of Manhattan, sleeping on benches". In the late 1990s, he left New York City and settled in Atlanta. According to interviews with Dumile, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him". Black Bastards had become bootlegged at the time, leading to Doom's rise in the underground hip hop scene.
1997–2001: Operation Doomsday and production work
In 1997, Dumile began freestyling incognito at open-mic events at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan, obscuring his face by putting a woman's stocking over his head. He meanwhile had taken on a new identity, MF Doom, patterned after and wearing a mask similar to that of Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom, who is depicted rapping on the cover of the 1999 album Operation: Doomsday. The album, in an earlier incarnation, would have been called The Super M.F. Villains according to an interview published in 1998 by hip-hop music culture magazine Ego Trip. Later versions of the mask would be based on a prop mask obtained from the film Gladiator. He wore this mask while performing and isn't photographed without it, except for very short glimpses in videos such as Viktor Vaughn's "Mr. Clean", "?", and in earlier photos with KMD.
Dumile released three singles on "Bobbito" García's Fondle 'Em Records, "Dead Bent", "Greenbacks" (1997), and "The M.I.C." (1998). In 1999 Fondle 'Em released MF Doom's first full-length LP, Operation: Doomsday, which included these singles and their b-sides, and additional tracks. Dumile had used the spelling variant "M.F. Doom" for the singles' releases, but thereafter changed this to MF Doom. Among the collaborators on these tracks were fellow members of the Monsta Island Czars collective (The M.I.C.), for which each artist took on the persona of a monster from the Godzilla mythos. Dumile went by the alias King Geedorah, a three-headed golden dragon space monster, modeled after King Ghidorah, the Toho movie monster who was a three-headed dragon that often battled Godzilla. Some of his appearances on the LP are as, and are credited to, this persona instead of that of MF Doom. Dumile would revisit this character later under various name-spellings.
In 2001, he began working with Prince Paul, co-producing MC Paul Barman's "Paullelujah!" with MikeTheMusicGuy and Phofo. In 2002, he appeared on the Sound-Ink's Colapsus collection, on a very hard to find track titled "Monday Nite at Fluid", featuring Kurious with production by King Honey, who also produced some tracks for Dumile's album Vaudeville Villain.
Dumile has produced all the instrumentation tracks for his solo releases, with very few exceptions. Beginning in 2001, under the "Metal Fingers" moniker, Dumile began releasing his Special Herbs instrumentals series. Many of these beats can be heard as the instrumentation tracks throughout his body of work. A separate website catalogs for which tracks each instrumental has been used.
2002–2004: King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Madvillain
In 2003, Dumile released the King Geedorah album Take Me to Your Leader. Geedorah is credited as producer, but only appears as an MC on four tracks. The majority of vocal tracks feature guest MCs, and the album features several instrumental montages of sampled vocals from old movies and TV shows—a technique employed on most of Dumile's albums. Later in 2003, Dumile released the LP Vaudeville Villain under the moniker Viktor Vaughn (another play on Doctor Doom, whose "real name" is Victor von Doom). In 2004 he released a follow-up LP under the Viktor Vaughn moniker, Venomous Villain. Later in 2004, the second MF Doom album Mm..Food was released by Minnesota-based label Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Doom's first commercial breakthrough came in 2004, with the album Madvillainy, created with producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. Released by Stones Throw Records, the album was a critical and commercial success. MF Doom was seen by mainstream audiences for the first time as Madvillain received publicity and acclaim in publications such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Spin. A video for "All Caps" and a four-date US tour followed the release of Madvillainy.
2005–2009: Danger Doom and Ghostface collaboration
Although still an independent artist, MF Doom took a bigger step towards the mainstream in 2005 with The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with producer DJ Danger Mouse under the group name Danger Doom. The album, released on 11 October 2005 by Epitaph and Lex, was done in collaboration with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and featured voice-actors and characters from its programs (mostly Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Danger Doom reached #41 on the Billboard 200. In 2005, Doom made an appearance on "November Has Come", a track on Gorillaz's 2005 album Demon Days, which reached #6 on the Billboard 200.
Doom produced tracks for both of Ghostface Killah's 2006 albums Fishscale and More Fish, it was also announced that the two were working on a collaboration album together as Doomstarks, then titled Swift & Changeable. Three tracks have been released since the album was announced, "Angels", which appeared on a Nature Sounds compilation in late 2006 (another version appears on Doom's 2009 album Born Like This), "Victory Laps" and "Lively Hood" (a 2015 Adult Swim single).
On March 14, 2006, Doom and producer Parallel Thought released a song called "Vomit". According to Parallel Thought, "Vomit" had been recorded before Doom reused its lyrics on "Vomitspit" on the 2004 album Mm...Food.
On May 30, 2006, Adult Swim released the Danger Doom Occult Hymn EP, a digital EP, and on July 6 the same year Lex released Danger Doom Old School EP. The latter includes previously unreleased remixes by Madlib and Danger Mouse. Kidrobot and Stones Throw released an 8" tall Madvillain toy available to coincide with the release of the Chrome Children CD/DVD which featured a clip of a live performance of Madvillain. He continued to work with Adult Swim, doing voice-over work as Sherman the Giraffe on Perfect Hair Forever, being the voice for The Boondocks advertisements and previews and hosting their Christmas Eve 2006 programming.
Following the success of Danger Doom, he signed a long term agreement with Lex in 2006. With the exception of a handful of guest appearances, there were no Doom releases between mid-2006 and the release of Born Like This. Doom's Born Like This was released on Lex Records on March 24, 2009. The album was Doom's first solo album to chart in the US.
2010–present: Key to the Kuffs, NehruvianDoom, and Czarface Meets Metal Face
In early 2010, he released the Gazzillion Ear EP on Lex which included the Thom Yorke Remix and two mixes by Jneiro Jarel. A further remix by Madvillainy featuring a voicemail message from Kanye West was released online. The release of the Gazzillion Ear EP coincided with Doom's first ever live performances outside North America. On 5 March 2010, Lex and Sónar presented the first Doom show in London, at The Roundhouse in Camden. The event was the first of many Doom live performances around the world between early 2010 and the present. These shows included the Lex 10th Anniversary show at The Roundhouse with Ghostface Killah and Jneiro Jarel, performances in Europe with Gorillaz, support for Portishead and performances with Jneiro Jarel at Bestival 2012. During this period, Doom released some material on labels other than Lex. On 26 May 2010, part of the Madvillain track "Paper Mill" was released as a digital single through Adult Swim. Expektoration, MF Doom's second live album, was released on 14 September 2010 through Gold Dust Media.
Upon completing his European tour, Doom was refused entry into the United States. Regarding the case, he stated that "there's a lot of legalities" and that he was "done with the United States." Doom settled in the UK and began recording an album with fellow Lex artist Jneiro Jarel, under the moniker JJ Doom. Doom contributed two exclusive JJ Doom tracks to the Lex 10th Anniversary compilation album Complex Volume 1. The tracks were the Doom/Thom Yorke/Jonny Greenwood version of "Retarded Fren" and the Dave Sitek remix of "Rhymin Slang". They were released digitally in December 2011, and were subsequently released on vinyl on Record Store Day 2012. The JJ Doom album Key to the Kuffs was released on August 20, 2012, and included guest features from Damon Albarn, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Khujo Goodie of Goodie Mob and Dungeon Family, and Boston Fielder. On August 19, 2013, an extended version of the album titled Key to the Kuffs (Butter Edition) was released, containing a bonus nine-track EP composed of new tracks and remixes.
In February 2013, Ghostface Killah revealed that he and Doom were in the process of choosing tracks for a collaborative album. In August 2013, Doom appeared on the Captain Murphy track "Between Villains" from the Adult Swim Singles Program 2013 as his alter-ego Viktor Vaughn. The track also featured Earl Sweatshirt and Thundercat. The project was revealed to be an album, titled NehruvianDoom, and was released on October 7, 2014.
Doom collaborated with Flying Lotus in November 2014 on the track "Masquatch", which appeared on the FlyLo FM radio station from the reissued Grand Theft Auto V. In December 2014, Ghostface Killah announced that his and Doom's long-announced collaborative album Swift & Changeable would be released in 2015. The date would later be changed to February 2016, although it has not been released.
Doom was featured on The Avalanches' single "Frankie Sinatra" alongside Danny Brown in 2016. In 2017, Doom released a track under the Danger Doom alias, entitled "Mad Nice" with features from Black Thought and Vinny Price. That same year, under the moniker WestSide Doom, he and Westside Gunn released two tracks, entitled "Gorilla Monsoon" and "2STINGS".
In August 2017, a compilation album, The Missing Notebook Rhymes, was announced, consisting of music from his upcoming projects, as well as songs from other artists that he is featured on. Each track would have been released digitally on the Adult Swim website per week over the course of fifteen weeks, however on 27 September 2017, this arrangement was canceled.
In February 2018, Doom and Czarface released "Nautical Depth", the first single from their collaborative album, Czarface Meets Metal Face. The album was released on March 30, 2018. On 18 December, Doom and Cookin' Soul released Doom Xmas, a Christmas remix album.
Doom was featured on Bishop Nehru's track "Meathead" in 2020.
Use of stand-ins
Dumile has used stand-ins to perform on his behalf. He claimed that he had lost weight and thus looked and sounded different, before his road manager admitted the use of imposters was an intentional choice by Dumile. At one show, an impostor Doom was booed off stage before being replaced by the real artist. In an interview with The New Yorker, Dumile said that he is both the writer and director and that he "might send a white dude next", adding "whoever plays the character plays the character".
In November 2019, during his performance at the Adult Swim Festival, Flying Lotus announced that he would be joined onstage by Dumile; instead, the masked figure who appeared on stage was revealed to be comedian Hannibal Buress. Dumile's involvement in the prank has not been confirmed.
Solo studio albums
- Operation: Doomsday (1999)
- Take Me to Your Leader (2003) (as King Geedorah)
- Vaudeville Villain (2003) (as Viktor Vaughn)
- Venomous Villain (2004) (as Viktor Vaughn)
- Mm..Food (2004)
- Born Like This (2009)
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