These are the transcripts of an interview with MF Doom. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on April 29th, 2002. MF Doom is best known for his role in the group KMD under the name Zen Love X and his 'Operation Doomsday' album under his alias MF Doom on Fondle 'Em. Always being creative, MF Doom has a few new releases in the works...
MVRemix: How did you get involved in Hip Hop?
Hip Hop was just what was going on at the time. I wrote rhymes and whatnot, kept with it. I've been doing it for so long, professionally I really got into the game through 3rd Bass' MC Serch. He got into the game and started to introduce me to people...
MVRemix: So what were your first experiences with the greener substance?
The greener substance? Haha. That must have been on the road in the West Coast. My first real experience, we was on the road with Brand Nubian, Leaders of The New School and KMD. We was on the road with De La Soul at the time. On those long stretches, I think 15 days out there, days would get longer and longer. So it just made us relax I guess. I remembered the fragrance from since when I was a little kid you know.
MVRemix: Do you read High Times magazine?
Yup, it's one of the few magazines that I read and really admire. A lot of good botany techniques.
MVRemix: How did the name MF Doom actually come about?
Ever since I was young, all my friends always used to call me Doom. That's how I got the Doom part of it. My partner Grimm, he came up with the MF part. The prefix, the title. For him it was "Mad Flows," "Mad Flows Grimm Reaper." So when he brought me into it, and I adopted the "MF" title, my "MF" is "Metal Face." "Metal Face Doom" - worked out just fine.
MVRemix: What's the situation with the "Metal Face" thing, I've seen the album cover and stuff, but I've never seen you perform live. What does the mask symbolize?
The mask shows the whole aspect of the music. It's all about the music, it has nothing to do with what the person looks like. Also I like to give the listener a feeling that I could be them. I could be any one of them. Doom is the average Joe. He ain't like the flyest, coolest dude or the one that's got all the money - he's just the cat that you know is your man. The mask is to show everybody that I could be them, or they could be me.
MVRemix: What's the situation with your aliases? I mean you've got MF Doom, Victor Vaughn etc. Why do you use the different names?
Well it's really because I consider myself a writer. When I write, I write from different characters, I write through different scenes, different times. Sometimes I'll write a rhyme "in 1992." With a 1992 style, '92 references, but I'm writing it now. I look at it like I'm a fiction writer or someone who writes novels, you've got a wide range of characters - even someone who writes scripts for movies, a playwright. It always makes things more eventful. It would be too corny if I was just writing from me. I've got a whole slew of characters.
MVRemix: With that have you thought of branching out into actual writing such as doing a script or writing a book...
Well, I would have to think about that, but when you say "actual" writing...
MVRemix: Well, no I don't mean it the way it sounded. What I mean is being read rather than being heard...
Right, right. I always admire that style. People like Charles Bukowski, I read his stuff when I need to get motivated. A couple of different writers really inspire me. I would definitely like to get into that aspect. It's weird, every time I write something I automatically write it to rhyme, I always think of a rhyming word for it.
MVRemix: How did the relationship between you and Bobbito come about?
Big Bob, yeah, I've known Bob since back in the 3rd Bass days. I met Bob through Pete. Bob used to work up at Def Jam, and at the time 3rd Bass had a deal up at Def Jam, so, we'd go up there with them every once in a while and they'd introduce us to the people's. I met Bob back then and we've been friends ever since. He's a cool dude.
MVRemix: I've heard rumours that back in the day you were pretty much into drugs in a big way. I'm wondering how you feel that thats affected you as an emcee. Do you feel that certain substances do open up your mind more so to be able to come up with much deeper, more intellectual content for your music?
Well I'm like this. Hmmm... That's a good question. Everything that you put into your body is going to affect your way of thinking or something in some way. Even if it's water or a can of beer even. It's always going to affect your thought a little. In some ways it can be overdone and fuck shit up, I wouldn't want to condone it or say to try and go and experiment with drugs to enhance your music. The best way I've found is when you stop using anything and go straight back to water. As far as you can go, when you just use all sorts of drugs, when you stop using things and go back to water, that brings the best out of me.
MVRemix: So how do you write your material. Do you sit down and think "This is how I'm going to do this" or you're in an argument with someone and a distinct thought pops into your head, how do you create your content?
Hmmmm. It comes out in a lot of different ways, like I said, I'll read a story and get inspired by the story. Maybe one aspect of the story will make me laugh, I'll take it and turn it into a whole 'nother thing. Or, I'll listen to the beat first and just listen to it back to back. Whatever the beat makes me think about, I'll just start right there.
MVRemix: What are your thoughts on the new MF Grimm album?
This shit is phat as hell. I mean I did damn near the whole shit, but, even besides that, the shit is dope. It's definitely multi-faceted, there's layers too it, you won't get bored of it. It's not the type of album that you can just throw it "in there" and forget about it. It's going to be a musical piece, you can always go back, have your favourites type of album. Classic.
MVRemix: How has Grimm being locked up affected you?
Well that's my brother, so I'm gonna always feel like part of me is locked up. It's ridiculous. My main thing is to stay strong out here to make sure everything is right for when he comes home. Hold it down for whatever we need to do.
MVRemix: Are the rumours true that the new Victor Vaughn album is going to be heavily influenced by Drum N' Bass?
The "Victor Vaughn" album is ill. These cats hired me to just do the vocal and the writing part, so they had all the beats already done. Usually I don't worry about that, this is the first time I did a whole album off of somebody else's shit. The way it sounds to me, it sounds like Hip Hop, but it is Drum N' Bass influenced. These cats they do electronica and shit like that but it seems like they catered more to sort of Hip Hop's style. But, with their twist of Drum N' Bass techniques. And maybe Drum N' Bass drum sounds and keyboard sounds, but with a Hip Hop feel to it. It's a good meld of the two. You've got your fast songs on there, you've got your slow shits. The beats are real ill, I think the lyrics and beats both compliment each other.
MVRemix: A lot of songs have been leaked online like "Change The Beat," "Is He Ill," "Where's The Boat?" Are they just to keep people up on your stuff or is it going to be a future project?
It's ill yo, it's the Internet. Now in a second, your shit will be in Germany somewhere. But that's cool, I look at it like if fans want to hear it like that then let them hear it. If it gets out there that way then it means people want to hear it, it must be good you know...But then I'm like "It's weird." The versions that you would hear online usually differ from the actual, final mixed ones. A lyric or two might be a little different. Everything that you hear though, I'm putting that shit out somehow.
MVRemix: What's missing in Hip Hop today, the beats or the rhymes?
It's a combination of the two. There's too much glamorization around everything. Everything is like a fashion show, everybody is modeling some type of gear or some type of liquor. The music doesn't come first no more. If you look at like the jazz days, Miles Davis, them dudes, when they repped, I felt like they just repped for "reppin's sake." It wasn't as fuckin' fucked up as now. When you look at back when I first started rhymin' - nobody was rhyming at the time, when you rhymed you would do rhyme, or you would draw. Now, everybody rhymes. Which is a good thing, it shows the influence of Hip Hop on the world. But, on the professional shit, I'd be like "Yo, leave it to the professionals." Some cats need to leave the mic alone. I think a lot of producers are getting away with making cheesy beats. For the simple fact that they know it's pre-sold. They don't have to come raw, they already know how much the record's going to sell. All that's predetermined so it don't matter what they give the public. To me it's like they're jerkin' the public around. Standards are getting so low now that you've paid around $20 for the CD, you want at least something valuable, something to listen to you know. The way I do it is I'm trying to give people their money's worth. Bring back good musical standards.
MVRemix: So, in your opinion is a freestyle, a freestyle if its been written?
Hmmm. There's a fine line between the two. I mean the way I did the song for High Times' shit. I wrote it in one day and set it the same day. I kind of wrote it in a freestyled manner. But if I was to be able to freeze time for a second. If I could've gone a little faster and been able to find all the words that quick to say to that fast beat then it would've been freestyled, but, I'm like I wrote it and I freestyled it. It was a combination of the two.
MVRemix: What exactly are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on the new Doom album, which will be out on Metal Face. Metal Face/Rhymesayers collabo type of thing. The title is "Mmm Food." So look out for that. I just finished with the MIC album. It'll be out on Rhymesayers/Metal Face. It should be out right around summertime. MF Grimm album, just finished with that. It's just finished being mastered, be out like a month from now. Finished up a bunch of stuff, just finishing up a King Ghidra album, it's coming out from Europe on Big Dada. Just did a project with Madlib, the Quasimoto joint. There's a lot of stuff poppin'.
MVRemix: Say your career in Hip Hop ends tomorrow, you have nothing left and have to start all over again. What would you do?
What would I do? Find somebody who has got equipment and a mic. That's all I need, haha. Somebody got equipment, a mic and a little bit of electricity and it's on from there. Give me a couple of hours and I'll have Doom right back.
MVRemix: Are there any last words that you'd like to put out to your fans and/or potential fans?
Everybody has a gift. Everybody has a talent. Whatever you find your gift is, pursue it and use it for good. Also, peace in the Middle East and all that. We need peace around the world. A lot of people buggin'. It's up to the future generations; it's up to the seeds. I say to the seeds, use your better judgement.
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"It's ill yo, it's the Internet. Now in a second, your shit will be in Germany somewhere. But that's cool, I look at it like if fans want to hear it like that then let them hear it. If it gets out there that way then it means people want to hear it, it must be good you know..."