The Many Face of MF Doom

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When Don McLean eulogized the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens with his line “the day the music died” was he not also commenting on the infelicitous union of music and tragedy? In 1989 KMD was on top of the world. Real heads who heard 3rd Bass' cult hit “The Gas Face” were begging for a full length from these guys. Mr. Hood was a commendable addition to the horde of progressive hip-hop being made popular by the Native Tongues crew and KMD's label mates Brand Nubian. However the magnum opus of KMD would be completed in 1992 and would not be released for years to come. A car accident concluded the life of KMD's DJ SubRoc shortly after completion of the group's sophmore album.

Due to the controversial artwork on the album cover Black Bastards wasn't released and the group was dropped from their record label. Sub's brother Zev Love X seemingly disolved from the scene for five years. When compared to the loss of life of a human being it is difficult to speak of the lesser tradegy to occur which was the delayed release of Black Bastards. Black Bastardsis truly one of the seminal albums in Hip-Hop. Its rawness, its emotion, its flavor is something that today's so called MCs and producers should study and take notes from.

The former KMD frontman Zev Love X, has traveled from what seemed like a position of inevitable achievment to a self-imposed exile (I will not say hiatus), to a resurgence as hip hop's own super-villain Metal Face Doom. Doom is appropriately exalted as an MC without parallel within the Hip-Hop community (I'm not talking 'bout that crap you hear on the radio) and as a phenomenal producer that consistently takes it to that next level (Isn't that what Hip-Hop is all about?). Now I will speak about all the difficulties that lead up to getting this interview, but the Hip-Hop gods were shining on Impose when we got in touch with Doom at his home in Atlanta Georgia.

You've been keeping real busy lately, and have a lot of albums coming out. Can you tell us about them?

Yep, tryin' ta stay in the grind. So, the first two are already out. The Geedorah album which came out on Big Dada in June and I think the Viktor album must of just dropped. I'll start with the Geedorah album, it took a while to get that project done. I was doin' all four of them simultaneously. The Geedorah album was the first one finished. The concept behind that one is along the lines of….Ok, Geedorah, he's a three headed Dragon, that's the character Geedorah, from outa space totally from outa space like earth is alien to him. So you know he's like 500 feet tall and he's like a real outer space being. So his thing is he's into hip-hop and different music. What he does is travel from different planets and galaxies and whatnot…and studies the culture and tries to help move the culture along in a positive way. So he comes around here and now he encounters Earth. Earth is on his list of places now and earth is unique in that the way we do music and the way that we express ourselves as humans is unique to any other place he ever been. So Geedorah he's really into hip-hop. He does it, thinks it, feels it, all that. But the only way he can really express it in 3D here is by telepathically commuicating with Doom and having Doom write down and or relay the messages that he's sending. So how Geedora comes vocally on the records, there's almost like a spiritual connection between him and Doom. Yeah, Geedorah's style different in the way you can tell the difference is Geedorah's more like how can I say he's more royal in his presentation. He's on a grander scale. That's how you can tell the difference between the two. So Geedorah's whole mission on this particular album “Take me to your leader” is one of what he did throughout the universe on other planets which is helping them bring it up to the next level of evolution. So he's here with a message of world peace from an extraterrestrial point of view. Showing us what we look like to a stranger. We might be used to wars and stuff down here like it's normal, it's on CNN, it's on MSNBC and they got it like live televised shit. It comes to a point where it starts to seem normal. Killing is something that's like normal in society and war is something that's commonplace to where people become desensitized to it, when it's something that's not really natural and normal. We're not supposed to be killing each other off like that. His message is “Yo look at what you guys are doing to each other based on small differences that really make us unique from one another, that should be celebrated.” His whole thing is like “Take me to your leader. Who's starting all of this?” From an alien point of view that classic cliche “Take me to your leader” but at the same time really showing us “Yo each one of you guys here on earth you are your own leader.” Based on what's happening here we all need to take responsibility as individuals in order for this whole thing to change and the work starts with teaching our children at home. Being that they're the next generation, they're the ones that are gonna be running this whole thing. It's what we put to them that's really gonna count. “Take me to your leader” Who's the leaders? The most inconspicuous are the children. Everyone's looking to these so called political leaders, they have their own agendas, financial agendas and whatnot and it's just the same thing if you look throughout history so that's basically Geedorah's thing.

How did you put this project together? or What makes this project different from the work done with The Monsta Island Czars?

I was in control of the direction that I was putting the record in. So it's not like I had a lot of input from other MC's even though I had a lotta MC's participate on it. They were kinda like going by my script. In that way, it differs from the MIC album which was like everybody does what they want lets put it together and make it happen. At the same time the Geedora one differs from any other Doom project as far as the concept because Geedorah he's like on a real mission, so the way I conveyed it musically to make it different was a newspaper. If you listen to that song “Monster zero” on the Geedora album, its like snippets of words. It's almost like the equivalent of words being typed and cut little phrases are cut together to make sentences and statements. The little pieces are cut out of maybe familiar places and little quotes that you might of heard and it all makes sense to the story line. It's like having a perspective from outside, not necessarily Geedorah himself speaking to you at all times and telling you he's a big creature dude. It's more like what he's seeing you hear. What he's seeing that goes on its like a verbal representation of what's going on on the earth.

Who's Viktor Vaughn?

Viktor's a younger cat. Maybe he's 19 or 20 years old. He's full of spunk type thing and real witty with his. Music is his thing too. Hip-Hop of course. That's the one thing all the characters have in common is their love for hip-hop music. So Viktor he's more of an MC guy. No real political agenda. In a lot of ways he's coming from the same direction as the average cat in the street who rhyme you know. He's trying to get on, see Viktor just happen to bump into the right cats and this is his debut album so he got a chance to finally put something out. How he differs from the average MC or the average soloist is in the fact that he's from another dimension totally. Like an alternate universe I should say. It's more like you know how Superman he's on earth but then Bizzaro is like Superman's equivalent in another twisted universe type thing. So Vic is like from that other twisted universe which is similar to Earth but just not quite. Vic for his age he's really into science and technology and where he's from technology is more advanced. That's one thing that's different the technology is more advanced so he happen to come up with this gadget where he transcend space and time, as well as dimensions and also universes, of course it wasn't working exactly right so he's stuck on earth for an indeterminate amount of time. While he's trying to get back to his own home he's getting his work done and he happens to get up with these cats at Sound-Ink and these producers King Honey and Heat Sensor. These guys they're also into science and technology so they're trading information back and forth they're trying to help him get back but while they're doing that they're recording the album and having fun. Vic he's a young guy so he's into the girls, he's into you know just b-boying around. His album is in that field. He drop about school or you know just hanging out.

Viktor Vaugn is kind of a departure from what you have traditionally done as all your past work was produced by Doom. I have heard this album being described as a lot more accessable than you regular music. Do you feel that your fan base is gonna change by the fact that these are more high profile beats or so called more accessable music?

Well, yeah it will be affected and it will probably be good, cause its widening the whole range. I didn't expect it to take on a life of its own like that really. You know I figured that it could happen. Out of the joints that they gave me I picked out the dopest ones to use. The ones that I could feel the flow on. Usually, like you said, things are produced by myself and it was a breath of fresh air to just really be the MC and not the producer this particular time. It gave me more lyrical…like I could concentrate strickly on the rhymes and the concept. In that way it differs vocally as well as the production style. I didn't really know it was being taken like that, but I'm like this yo. I still got that Doom shit! The Doom shit is coming later on this year and its still gutter you know what I mean? So you know its good that it's going in that direction but I think only maybe that will go in that direction, it might pull other things through but I definately will always have something like that's under the radar, that only certain cats can get with.

What other projects do you have coming out?

I got Special Herbs Vol 3 & 4 and out in the U.K. [Vol] 4, 5, and 6.. but it's still available online so it doesn't matter no more. Also I got the MadVillain project I'm doing with MadLib. That kinda leaked online for a second there. I guess it's still online but I did a bunch of new songs for that joint so its still gonna be fresh. Then I got the Doom album its called Um…Food that's the title and that shit is bonkers! You know what I mean?

I think people were really excited when they heard that there was going to be 4 or 5 new albums this year.

Yeah the first two are minor ones. Those cats, those is like appetizers. If cats is feeling those, man wait till Mad Villain comes and the Doom joint. Forget it!

How to you perceive yourself as the supervillain of hip-hop? What sort of a role does that encompass?

That's a good question. No one's ever asked me that. I look at it like this, the role of the supervallain really entails being able to ride that fine line of cutting edge new music and never following a trend, playing by those rules at the same time being able to bring it to the masses in its purest form. It's like being a super villain….what would be a good example? The only thing I could do is quote myself “A killer who loves children.” If you can think of that. The two opposite extremes like being able to conquer both. Balance duality you know what I'm saying. I'm a bring this hip-hop shit to where it's supposed to be! That's my job you know what I mean. I'm a do it in the most plain jeans, t-shirt villain way too! Nothing flashy. Average Joe straight up.

Would you classify yourself as a rapper?

Not in the sense that it is now. In the classic sense of the word though, he's the rapper or he's the DJ, maybe I could accept that. I'm more like the MC of the show, you know the host of the event. I'm really just putting the vocals to the music. The music is what's really holding it down. So if it was me by myself, shit well I'm not a comedian, I can't really keep the crowd rockin without the bass!

Do you own more comic books or vinyl records? Do you still read comic books? Do you own any action figures?

At this point I would have to say vinyl records. It fluxuates throughout the year. When I get a chance to, I hardly get a chance like how I would like to though. I'm in the lab a lot. I got a Doom doll it's in the case still and it's like some collectors item. Its got a rubber metal suit. It's really rubber but everything can come off. His boots to his cape it's ill.

How would you describe your production style? It seems fragmented, its got soul, jazz, and loads of samples. What do you do when you are creating it?

I try to switch it up but I still at the same time stick to certain formulas that we came up with when we first started out back with KMD. Me and my brother Sub we came up with certain formulas that are just universal to no matter what equipment we had. Or no matter what the new shit that was popping or whatever. Certain formulas that we had and kept and we find that those formulas are adaptable to each one so we got a bag of them. So what I do is I just keep flipping them. What I do is different. I consider myself in a whole range of music if I was an instrumentalist, in the sense of instruments drums, bass, violins, piano. Of all these instruments I would be a drummer. When I produce I consider myself a drummer and all the other music is based around the drum. You know what I'm saying? It always carries the drum nicely it's pretty much something you know I kinda keep it to something that's jazzy every once in while I'll flip it though with something that's hard and rugged. What counts to me a lot is the tones, the frequencies. Certain frequencies will bring out certain feelings in people. It's like so called odd frequencies. I say odd, meaing that they're hardly heard. They're keys that you don't hear that much. They're keys that sound off (Doom does a demonstration that sounds like a muffled trumpet). Like a note that's off, maybe if your familiar with Thelonious Monk how he played. Hell a lot of people in his era were saying his shit was fake and he's bugging and he's not even doing nothing. But he was like the illest in my book with his piano skills he would hit notes that people wouldn't hit then at the same time as you look at the whole score it's still like mathematically in line so its like finding another way to finding a whole other set of frequencies to play with. That's what I look for when I look for my music but I mainly consider myself a drummer.

When you've completed a beat. Are you hearing the lyrics you are going to be saying when you are making the beat? Or what sort of process is that and how does that happen?

It's a weird thing. Sometimes when I'm doing the beat I might have an inspiration for a beat and I say oh man I start on it. Right there I start catching the first line of what I might say on the beat. If it ever got done so everything is simultaneously happening. Then there's other times when I'll do the beat and I wouldn't know what I would say on it. But the beat is just where ever it was that made me get the initial inspiration for the beat. It's tricking me to the point wher I'm like yo I gotta finish this beat and I'm in it and I won't stop until its done. When it's done and I'll listen back and at times I'll be like I don't know what I would spit on there and it'd take me a year to get the lyrics to it so it depends it varies between the two.

Does it vary with each character you are invoking or communicating with?

Yeah that too. Usually though I'll know what character when I hear the beat. One of them will choose it one of them will say yo that's me. Like Doom's style is more mature. I would think more traditional Hip-Hop as opposed to Viktor who's more like he'll rhyme on anything with a crazy beat a so called techno style electronica he'll flip it just for the challenge. Then Geedorah's more like, it's jazz but it's like hip-hop. It's like hip-hop jazz mixed together somehow but its still traditional good hard hip-hop. At the same time it still pushes the envelope it gives it that indie touch. It's something that's familiar but it's a little different.