Sunday, October 11, 2009

...When You Spell The Man's Name


doom schwag available at stones throw





sintalentos - DOOM! (zip)

I know that Mos clip has been in rotation for a few months now. And Ta-Nehisi Coates' New Yorker piece has been out for a minute, too. But SB got the assist when she said, "I hadn't even heard of Doom..."

As Coates writes, Doom is hardly a household name, so a nod in the thinking person's weekly gazette could go a ways. What I like about Dumile is his hyper-awareness of constructed narratives. Coates talks about Chuck D and Biggie, but the narrative idea can be found in any celebrity artist: Bowie, Miles, Bono/U2, Dylan, et. al. Each of them actively constructs and reconstructs their persona for the public to consume. Most of Doom's identity manifestations, notably the physical one (the mask), are pretty tame by performance art standards, but pretty sophisticated by popular/hip hop culture's standards. However, he is constructing his persona from detritus of a specific class of pop culture (e.g., kids with working parents who had a TV for a babysitter) on arguably unpopular terms. Take the "Doomposters," for example:
"I'm the writer, I'm the director,” Dumile said. “If I was to go out there without the mask on, they'd be like, 'Who the fuck is this?' I might send a white dude next ... I'll send a Chinese n*****r. I'll send ten Chinese n*****s. I might send the Blue Man Group.”
I think I would pay to see that last one.

So, some quick words about the blend: it's not a greatest hits to catch you up to speed on Coates' Doom references. Instead, I picked songs that have caught my ear, or that I could readily access (i.e., this was about banging something out quickly, not about planning). When I put the songs together, some of the themes from the article shone through in colors -- unsurprisingly, the constant play with narratives.

I divided the blend into 6 chapters:

Chapter 1: Episodes 4-6
The first three Star Wars as a whole sort of match Doom's presentation of multiple identities/characters. These films present a story chronologically, but are essentially the same movie repeated: main characters face a conflict, they look to be defeated, they go through a training period, then they face the enemy in the story's climax. Doom similarly presents different characters (MF Doom, DOOM, King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn, Metal Fingers, et al.), but essentially covers the same ground every time.

Madvillain (Madlib & MF Doom) - All Caps
MF Doom - Dead Bent (Original Version)
King Geedorah - Fazers
Viktor Vaughn - Villainous Villain
Metal Fingers - Saffron

Chapter 2: Episodes 1-3
The Star Wars series is established as having taken place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away." But the prequels make clear that the original 3 movies represent "the present," while the 3 newer films represent "the past." What's odd about Episodes 1-3 is that their vision of the past is starkly different from the present, to the point of being disconnected. Doom's past works are genuine, unlike Lucas' efforts to write his own history after the fact. But his past has strangely become disconnected in a similar way. His rhyme style is different. His brother is dead, so KMD cannot be resurrected in a reunion. And he's burned bridges or is simply out of touch with people from his past (notably MF Grimm).

KMD - Gasface Refill (Feat. Onyx)
KMD - What a Nigga Know
KMD - Plumskinzz (Loose Hoe, God & Cupid)
KMD - What A Nigga Know? (Remix) (Feat. MF Grimm)

Chapter 3: Blues Clues
This section started as an exploration of Doom's pathology, but admittedly lost coherence. I think the broad, stretched theme is the blues, or tragedy. That said, he is like other emcees and rhymes mostly in a multi-narrative style, so it's a rare treat to listen to whole stories from him.

Viktor Vaughn - Bloody Chain
Madvillain - One Beer (Drunk Version)
Madvillain - Fancy Clown (Feat. Viktor Vaughn)
Metal Fingers - Lovage

Chapter 4: Super Friends
Coates' piece presents Doom as being both solitary and in need of company. It's a delicate balance b/c the Doom persona needs to be presented as a single identity, but clearly needs "the village" to make it happen. Personally, I think Doom is great on his own, but way better in the company of certain colleagues.

DOOM - Lightworks (Produced by J Dilla)
Viktor Vaughn - Saliva (Produced by RJD2)
Madvillain - Meat Grinder (Produced by Madlib)
Madvillain - Rhinestone Cowboy (Four Tet Remix)
MF Doom - Sniper Elite (Produced by J Dilla)

Chapter 5: Looney Tunes
Doom's music is as sophisticated as contemporary fine art art b/c it presupposes an enormous body of cultural knowledge. His references just happen to be more pop culture. His constant return to cartoons seems natural b/c it is a medium where the "larger than life" ethos can be explored ad infinitum.

Dangerdoom - Space Hoes
Metal Fingers - Vervain (Turmeric) (Samples original Spider Man Theme)
Gorillaz - November Has Come (Feat. MF Doom)
Dangerdoom - A.T.H.F. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force)
MF Doom - Hey!

Chapter 6 is a skit. Now, go ahead and listen.

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