I can’t not write about the passing of MF Doom. No plans on what I’m about to say about this man but I just know words need to be said about one of the greatest rappers to ever touch a microphone and a man who significantly altered my life.
Growing up a weird boy is tough. I was short and awkward with braces and acne. Most of those things are still true minus the braces. There comes a point when your masculinity is consistently questioned or challenged.
You need to be excelling in sports, texting bitches (because I was 12 and no one really expected me to actually be having sex with anyone but I better have had some texts coming through) and most importantly, you had to be listening to the right music or else dudes just freely called you gay which is just the worst insult for a preteen boy who has no way of proving they aren’t.
In 2003, The Black Album and Get Rich Or Die Tryin came out. Lot of kids being faux gangsters. While everyone was on the bus listening to G-Unit, I had stand up comedy albums in my ears. I was a loser. I can’t stress this enough.
As a loser, I eventually got into rap the nerdiest way possible. I got into Edan, Aesop Rock and El-P. White nerds bending words over odd loud and imperfect beats that sounded nothing like what Jeezy was doing in Atlanta.
Whether it was iTunes radio or Pandora or Limewire, my nerdy rap taste quickly brought me to the magnum opus of all underground rap: Madvilliany.
One of the first MF Doom songs I heard was Raid with the opening line “How Doom hold heat but preach nonviolence” which was an instant juxtaposition from literally every 50 Cent lyric I ever heard.
A chubby older-looking guy who kind of reminded me of my dad rapping with a nasally voice that sounded like his nose was running in the booth that had a level of self-awareness mixed with humor that I had never heard before.
There’s something about growing up feeling different and then finding an artist who is so different from anyone you’ve heard prior and who embraces it. That shit is powerful for a 12, 13, 14 year old (black) boy existing in a world that would prefer if he didn’t exist.
When you dig more into the career and life of MF Doom, his words hit harder learning that he lost his brother and rap partner in the group KMD, when he was 19 years old and his death pretty much put an end to Zev Love X (his rap name at the time).
Facing homelessness, he had to go back to the lab and reinvent himself as the villain we all know and love today. He later explained that we wore the mask because the rap game was becoming all about appearances and no one was caring about the actual music anymore so he hid his face.
The genius oozes out of every bar. You feel smarter having listened to him. Whether he was rapping as Doom or one of his alter egos, Viktor Vaughn or King Geedorah, no one was better at finding the pocket in a beat that had no business being rapped over. His use of alteration and his ability to create new rhyme schemes instead of your simple AA BB shit was unmatched.
MF Doom’s unique style of nonsequiturs and beat selection birthed some of my favorite rappers today. From MIKE to Earl Sweatshirt to Joey Bada$$, Doom’s legacy will continue to live in our speakers for years to come.
Doom helped make me comfortable in an environment I didn’t yet have the language to understand. Who knows what type of asshole I’d be if I didn’t have MF Doom in my life when I needed him most. What big ass Denver Nuggets jersey and sideways hat I’d be wearing. What awful people I would’ve surrounded myself with just to prove my masculinity to people whose opinions should’ve meant nothing to me.
Thank you, MF Doom.