Remembering the underground hip-hop legend MF DOOM



Jaeden Pinder, Staff Writer

MF DOOM, one of underground hip-hop’s most acclaimed rappers and producers, passed away at the age of 49 on Oct. 31, 2020. His death was subsequently announced on Dec. 31 by his wife. The cause of death is currently unknown.

DOOM was known for his dynamic wordplay, villainous persona and influence on some of hip-hop’s most popular artists today.

Born in England but raised in Long Beach, New York, MF DOOM, born Daniel Dumile, had a devastating rise in the hip-hop scene that can only be described as a villain origin story.

Under the name Zev Love X, he began his work in the early 1990s with the hip-hop trio KMD alongside Onyx the Birthstone Kid and his brother DJ Subroc.

While signed to Elektra Records, during the production of their second album, “Black Bastards,” they encountered a tumultuous period where Onyx left the group and Subroc was tragically killed in a car accident.

Dumile attempted to finish the album solo until Elektra Records abruptly dropped KMD from the label due to the album art’s controversial imagery and darker lyrical themes, eventually canceling the record. He went on hiatus soon after and suddenly disappeared from the hip-hop scene.


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A post shared by MF DOOM. ALL CAPS. (@mfdoom)

After a four-year hiatus, Dumile emerged under the new moniker MF DOOM wearing a mask akin to the character Doctor Doom from Marvel Comics.

He released his debut LP “Operation: Doomsday” in 1999 to critical acclaim and thus began his noteworthy rise to fame.

In 2004, one of his most successful years, DOOM released the collaborative album “Madvillainy” with producer Madlib, which has been regarded as ingenious even 17 years after its initial release.

With its unique approach to song structure and minimal production, “Madvillainy” has been considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.

In the same year, Dumile released “MM..FOOD,” handling nearly all production on the project and similarly receiving rave reviews.

Some of the artist’s other positively received projects include “The Mouse and the Mask” (2005) with producer Danger Mouse and “Czarface Meets Metal Face” (2018) with hip-hop supergroup Czarface.

Dumile also created several other aliases like King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn and Metal Fingers to release side and instrumental projects during his career.

“The Chocolate Conquistadors” featuring BADBADNOTGOOD was released posthumously for the video game “Grand Theft Auto Online” in early December 2020.

MF DOOM’s villainous character often extended beyond his lyricism and into his live shows. Throughout his career, DOOM was known to have directed stand-ins to appear as if they were DOOM at his shows (dubbed by fans as “DOOMposters”) further intensifying the character of MF DOOM.

The rapper believed it was important to conceal his appearance because it put his unadulterated talent at the forefront.

In Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article on the rapper for The New Yorker, Dumile spoke on this, saying, “A visual always brings a first impression. But if there’s going to be a first impression I might as well use it to control the story.”

Often described as “Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Rapper,” DOOM’s approach to hip-hop paved way for some of hip-hop’s most recognizable artists today, like Tyler, the Creator, Childish Gambino and Freddie Gibbs.

Similarly, he inspired experimental artists like JPEGMAFIA, Flying Lotus and even Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who all offered condolences to Dumile’s family in the wake of his passing.

Tributes included rapper Open Mike Eagle, who performed a verse on Instagram for DOOM, as well as Madlib, Dumile’s closest collaborator, who expressed his shock in a recent interview with NPR. “I found out when everybody else did, on social media…I still can’t believe that he died,” he said.

The rapper’s sudden death will leave a hole in the music industry for some time, but it will also give birth to new talents that were inspired by his unique flows and memorable story.

MF DOOM will be remembered by all of the hip-hop community and will remain a cardinal influence on the genre as a whole for generations to come.


Some essential MF DOOM and DOOM-produced tracks:

“Rhymes Like Dimes” feat. DJ Cucumber Slice by MF DOOM (“Operation: Doomsday”)

“Vomitspit” by MF DOOM (“MM…Food”)

“Figaro” by MF DOOM (“Madvillainy”)

“Accordion” by MF DOOM (“Madvillainy”)

“Potholderz” by MF DOOM feat. Count Bass D (“MM…Food”)

“One Beer” by MF DOOM (“MM…Food”)

“Coming for You” by MF DOOM (“NEHRUVIANDOOM”)

“World Domination” by Joey Bada$$

“Cookie Chips” by Rejjie Snow

“The Chocolate Conquistadors” by BADBADNOTGOOD & MF DOOM