Hip-Hop’s lone supervillain, MF DOOM, passed October 31st, 2020 as revealed by his wife on an Instagram post on December 31st, 2020. The 49-year old reclusive rapper, who started his career in 1988 as Zev Love X with his group KMD, had not been heard from on social media since October 30th, a day before his death. DOOM, who was born Daniel Dumile, had the most interesting comeback/reinvention story in hip-hop. He started rapping as Zev Lov X in the trio KMD which included MC Onyx, the Birthstone Kid and his brother Subroc. Their 1991 album Mr. Hood addressed racism and Black empowerment and used samples of kids’ TV shows to create a comical atmosphere. Subroc was fatally hit by a car in 1993 leaving the completion of their second album Black Bastards to his brother. Dumile finished the album alone and One single, “What A Nigga Know” was released but the anti-Sambo artwork got KMD dropped from Elektra Records.
He disappeared from the rap scene for five years to reemerge as the mask-wearing MF DOOM. The new identity was inspired by the Marvel Comics villain Doctor Doom. He started appearing at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in Manhattan and soon released three songs for Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle’ Em Records. MF DOOM rapped in a stream-of-consciousness flow with comedic wit. Garcia’s label also released MF DOOM’s first solo album, Operation: Doomsday. The murky-sounding production, DOOM’s slick phrases and masked figure was unheard of but infectious. Over the next two decades his fanbase grew and he released 11 albums both solo and collaborative outings. He also developed two more identities as King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn. In 2004, he and producer Madlib recorded as Madvillain and saw the release of Madvillainy. The album was critically-acclaimed, delighted the fans and earned them both more respect from their peers. MF DOOM continued to release innovative collaborations most notably The Mouse and the Mask with producer Danger Mouse. He remained elusive with his face never being seen and he even started sending others to perform his concerts as him which angered some fans.
In 2014, the NehruvianDoom album with rapper Bishop Nehru was released and it showed DOOM mentoring someone from the younger generation. At the time of his passing, he was working with Flying Lotus on new music. His song with BADBADNOTGOOD “The Chocolate Conquistadores” was just added to Grand Theft Auto Cayo Perico Heist. When he was once asked about sending others to perform as him, he replied “When you come to a DOOM show come expecting to hear music. Don’t come expecting to see me. Everything we do is villain style.” MF DOOM’s influence has inspired so many and the irony of it all is that the year he dies everyone is wearing a mask.