Daniel Dumile’s incredible impact on the modern music industry.
There is no real motivation as to why Daniel Dumile born in London but moved with his parents to NY as a teenager, decides never to take American citizenship, remaining a subject of her majesty the Queen of England until the end of his days; and despite the ferment of the New Hip Hop culture of the late 1980s, he never gets completely overwhelmed by the American scene, rather he develops a repelling feeling.
Nor is there any real motivation as to why he decided to frame his entire music career around a metal mask, gladiator-style, and, in 2009, permanently change his name from MF Doom to MF DOOM.
MF, stands for Metal Face or Metal Fingers, a nickname under which he produced almost all of his Special Herbs; instead DOOM refers to the villain Dr. Doom, a nickname given by his mother when Daniel was a child.
Daniel has tried to shroud his persona in mystery since his early days, even performing with a mask in the very first open mic at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan, the site of his formal debut in the Rap world.
And it is legend, or perhaps reality, that dear MF would send someone else to perform in his place, conveniently disguised by the iconic mask and all related tricks to appear as close to the original as possible, with catastrophic results when the trick was discovered.
Shy and reserved to a fault, a guy like this should have pursued a solitary career, behind some equipment producing music in a dark room, and especially away from people, given his known sociopathy. Instead, fortunately for us, DOOM has written, set to music, and above all, expressed in bars the finest Hip Hop songs, from the 1990s to the present.
He has never hidden, however, his revulsion towards the public, being in the spotlight and interviews; according to some, he made up his fear of flying out of thin air, so as to evade any possibility of travel, but considering that his returns to his native England are always frequent and documented, this was hardly believable.
In 1991 the then Zev Love X (MF’s first name) released his first ever record together with his brother DJ Subroc and Rodan, under the moniker K.M.D. Kausing Much Damaging.
In 1993 they work on their second record, which already has all the makings of something memorable.
The prerequisites for a sohomore album with a bang are really all there, and it certainly would have been if tragedy had not occurred on April 23, 1993. Coming out of the recording studio to finalize the last beats, DJ Subroc is hit by a car on the Long Island Expressway. As if that were not enough, the Elektra label refuses to release the record because of its title “Black Bastards” with a hanging slave on the cover, they are considered “too much” for post-Rodney King conservative America.
The record would not be revived and released until 1998, a date that marked MF DOOM‘s formal return to the New York scene after years of silence.
The unexpected and untimely death of his brother plunged Daniel into a seemingly dead-end depression until, in the late 1990s, the artist made the acquaintance of a promising Manhattan rapper, Percy Carey-better known as MF Grimm. The two have a tragedy in common: Percy’s brother also died, shot during a shooting; while he “got away” with a months-long comatose state and a wheelchair for life.
MF Grimm sets up the “Monsta Island Czars” crew, of which Daniel Dumile is also a member, and releases the first album, with a single that pops everywhere, “Escape from MI”: it is so successful that in NY Rap circles it is rumored to be an alter ego of the Wu Tang Clan.
After the record, M.I.C slowly crumbles until it leaves no trace – or almost no trace. Meanwhile, MF DOOM releases his Doomsville, produced by MF Grimm himself.
2003 is considered the year that marked an important point in his musical production: almost simultaneously with the M.I.C. project under the name King Geedorah, Daniel introduced his solo rapper alter ego: Viktor Vaughn, a pun on Viktor Von Doom, Dr. Doom’s real name.
Behind Viktor is a real concept, not just a desire to separate Rapper and Producer activities: his debut album “Vaudeville Villain” is an introspective, dark, denunciatory work.
Between 2002 and 2005 he released a beauty of thirteen albums under other imaginative pseudonyms and under the original name MF DOOM, some solo, some collaborative. One of these collaborations is considered a masterpiece: the four-handed work made with Madlib, under the name Madvillain.
In 2009 MF released what was to be his last solo record, “Born Like This,” mispronouncing the title of a poem by Charles Bukowski; the album is released quietly and remains almost ignored by those in the industry, but it is a true masterpiece.
From this point on, Daniel’s tracks are almost lost: from the already very rare interviews he gave during his golden moment, he closes himself off for good in a dead-end hermitage. He began investing in youth, producing mixtapes to artists like Joey Bada$$, discovering new talent, forging diamonds in the rough from the ghettos of NY.
An artist who never bowed to the unwritten rules of the musical mainstream, who stuck faithfully to his style, his way of living and thinking, consistently.
MF DOOM remains the leading name of an independent industry whose trace has unfortunately been lost, which has always shunned any compromise with the trends of the moment, without million-dollar launch campaigns or million-dollar features, not to mention the whole mechanism – often sick – behind social.