Known for his mysterious and masked persona, Daniel Dumile, best known as MF Doom, passed away at the age of 49 on October 31, 2020. One of the most celebrated, unpredictable and enigmatic figures in underground hip hop, Doom leaves behind a body of work that will continue to shape artists for years to come.
Dumile was born in London in 1971 and moved to Long Island, NY with his family during his childhood. He began his music career as a teenager with his younger brother, DJ Subroc, when the two formed the hip-hop group KMD. The critically acclaimed act tragically disbanded after Dumile’s brother Subroc was killed in a car accident in 1993.
Following the death of his brother, Dumille disappeared from public life and remerged in the late 1990s under a masked persona. He adopted various guises and means of subterfuge before settling on what would become his signature mask which was modeled after the Marvel villain Doctor Doom — an ode to his love of comic books. He began calling himself Metal Face Doom and later shortened the moniker to MF Doom.
Click on the player above to hear “5 on 5: MF Doom” and get a feel for Doom’s iconic legacy with these five essential tracks:
The Progressive Underground’s 5 on 5: MF Doom
1. “Peachfuzz” — KMD
“Peach Fuzz,” off of KMD’s debut album Mr. Hood demonstrates Dumile’s dexterous rap style.
2. “Doomsday” — MF Doom
“Doomsday” established MF Doom as an elite rapper whose wit and intellect outpaced the world around him. He also made a name for himself as a producer who was notable for mining material that you would rarely expect to hear sampled in a hip-hop tune.
3. “Raid” — Madvillain
Doom collaborated with the equally enigmatic producer Madlib under the name Madvillain. Their album Madvillainy stands as an example of the dexterity and endurance of rap as a medium.
4. “Fazers” — King Geedorah
MF Doom would release material under different monikers, such as King Geedorah, Vikter Vaughn, and many more. “Fazers” from the album Take Me To Your Leader showcases his production chops as he mixes outer space vibes with monster themes (taken from Godzilla movies and the Ultra Man and Johnny Socko television series).
5. “All Caps” — Madvillain
As a producer, Dumile was a nimble and versatile stylist. As a lyricist, he was uncompromising and introspective, with intricate rhyme schemes that were pure art delivered in monotone cadences. He rapped about America’s myths around Blackness and delved deeper to investigate larger truths of social inequalities and economic injustices. He used his masked persona of Doctor Doom to talk about these inequalities deeply rooted in the music industry as a Black man, as displayed in “All Caps”, where he collaborated again with Madlib.
One of the most outstanding aspects of Doom’s legacy are his collaborations with various up-and-coming producers who would later develop into essential figures in the industry.