MF DOOM – In memoriam

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Photo courtesy of The New Yorker

Daniel Dumile (MF DOOM) performing on-stage in his coveted and unmistakable metal mask.

Many words come to mind when we hear the word “doom.” Some picture death, destruction and chaos. While in society the word carries a negative connotation, in the music industry the word “doom” has earned its staple to one of the most musically diverse, influential and recognizable hip hop artists of recent years: MF DOOM.

Just a few weeks ago, the world was slammed with the saddening news of the passing of Daniel Dumile, a British-born rapper who made his mark rapping for hip hop group KMD under the performing name Zen Love X. Dumile, an avid fan of Marvel comics and supervillains, created his new alter ego and stage name. “MF DOOM,” named after Marvel supervillain “Doctor Doom,” after the KMD’s breakup in 1993. Dumile would fully embrace his new persona, sporting a mean-looking metal mask at every performance, never taking it off in public.

“I feel like a lot of people don’t appreciate how dedicated he was to his persona. He literally never took off his mask and stuck to his stage personality,” senior Micah Montano said.

Throughout his career making music, Dumile experimented with beats and lyrical flow that weren’t typically heard in mainstream rap music at the time. His use of instruments like the electric guitar, piano and stringed instruments, and incorporation of sounds created from the collisions of different objects added an almost visceral experience to his music that listeners never dreamt of hearing in the slur of 808-beat ridden songs in the hip hop industry of the late ‘90s. Additionally, his choice to include audio samples from TV shows and movies added to the somewhat cinematic flow of his albums, which would set in motion the inclusion of such audio bits in countless hip hop albums in the future.

“I write rhymes… to get money. Other than that, I don’t listen to hip hop music. I listen to jazz music and instrumentals, and [stuff] like that,” Dumile said in an interview with VocalMedia in 2019.

Dumile wasn’t one to fall to the criticisms and trends of the music industry. His critically acclaimed 1999 album all the way up to his last album “Born Like This” (2009) included the same variety of instrumental experimentation and diversity as his first record-shattering album, 10 years prior. This emitted the broader message that while his variety and musical production may have gone out of style or decreased in popularity, he wasn’t one to abandon what he loved — something to admire in any individual.

“I didn’t know a lot of his music, but one of my favorites was ‘Rap Snitches Knishes. I love how there is the electric guitar in the background and I think it makes the song more likeable for me because I don’t usually listen to rap music,” senior Paul Kownasky said.

Dumile left a mark on not only the world of hip hop, but the world of music as well. His lyrical mastery, musical innovation and diversity, and his passion to pursue what he enjoyed is why he has become a household name for music enthusiasts and listeners alike.

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