Whether wearing the mask of Metal Face, hitting the scenes as King Geedorah, or sparking the flames with more power than the Triple Entente; MF DOOM hit the streets of New York as the steel spitter with comic book overtones. He was the anti-hero for the misfits that connected his self-deprecating humor to the Gladiator-esque Mask that made every listener feel bigger than just the music. It was the vision of how anyone could be a villain, DOOM could be the neighbor who is secretly a music lab rat, or the cousin who has a distinction for the Fantastic Four, or even the writer of this article.
It did not matter who wore the mask, the importance was the impact that DOOM made on hip-hop and the way that music was approached as a community. With the now ten-year-old record, DOOM is as engaging and interesting as he was back when Born Like This first dropped. Much has changed since the last solo record was released, more in the ambiguity of DOOM and how his music has adapted to fit a new generation. The best-kept secret of hip-hop creates a Greek theatre show where the audience interacts and creates narration through a realm of storytelling.
With the pounding drums that form over “GAZZILLION EAR” which is produced by the late and great J Dilla who passed more wisdom in producing in one day than most can obtain in a year. Under the guise of the immaculate team-up that never was, DOOM tags the track with his signature work of no-hook and all bars. His rhyme schemes could create a two-hundred page paper on the wittiness and Ph.D. level poetry that he interweaves through the sections of breakdowns in the beats and manipulations behind Dilla’s work. With these transitions and ability to distribute a melodic iron fist that controls the tracks, DOOM moves in to take more territory with “BALLSKIN”.
He explains openly, “The flow is toe in, precision as an afro trim. All big letters, but it isn’t no acronym. Smack the thin grin off a chin for crack smoking, DDT the first bar, leave the track back broken” which invokes a river of metaphors and similes, as well as visual elements that continue through the one-minute and 30-second boastful self-praise. A common practice for hip-hop comes the initiative to crush on enemies, with DOOM, he forces the hand as he says “Not to call the whole crowd out, it’s just a few chumps, and you know who you are like a shout out.”
After a creatively bleak description of a bomb-ridden and depleted Earth by Charles Bukowski, DOOM jumps into this dramatic and frankly frightening beat of “CELLZ” that holds a real weight over the listener’s shoulders. As if the world’s walls are closing in, Born Like This is capitalizing directly on how DOOM can play the crowd like a marionette, strings attached to the back as he describes, “Missing wheel, you don’t listen you a feel head. Sitting in the kitchen, pissing, twitching, kissing steel lead. Crime pays no dental, no medical, unless you catch retirement, county, state, or federal.”
DOOM can create more than just a record as an audio-novel where he works samples to manifest a single destiny. While the message may not always be clear, Born Like This is an explosion of color in an ultimately bleak existence. From the 19-base tracks and three remixes of “GAZZILLION EAR”, there is more than enough content to rattle the chains of excitement as hip-hop’s Atlas carries the globe.
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