MF Doom: “There’s just something about him.” This is not a phrase used lightly in the world of hip-hop. All of the greats just “have something about them” with the Jiggas, Daddy Kanes, and KRS-Ones all possessing this “something” during their careers.
Since bursting onto the scene with his group KMD in the early ‘90s, MF Doom’s stock has gradually risen escalating into a critically-acclaimed Operation Doomsday solo album in 1999 and the near-perfect Madvillainy collaboration effort with producer Madlib earlier this year. Now comes his anticipated follow-up sophomore solo album Mm..Food?, a treat which proves to be as tasty as its song titles indicate, with Doom mashing together his own production efforts with raw charismatic lyrics and creative concepts absent elsewhere in hip-hop.
Listening to an MF Doom record has become sort of like reading a comic book, as Doom notoriously includes samples chopped-up and strewn together – and well, the guy wears a mask when he performs, and what’s more comic book than that?
Mm..Food? is no different with “Beef Rapp” serving as the appetizer of the album and including chopped-up samples all referring to food and being hungry. And in reality, how hungry has hip-hop been for a dosage of Doom? “He wears a mask just to cover the raw flesh, A rather ugly brother with flows that’s gorgeous,” Doom raps, paying homage to his mask-hidden character.
“I get no kick from champagne, their alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all, So tell me why shouldn’t it be true, I get a kick out of brew,” sings (yes, sings!) MF Doom as he reunites with Madlib over a set of drums and chilly samples on “One Beer.” Calling emcees cheerleaders and sounding like a man shot up with some extra confidence, Doom takes aim at his Cristal-guzzling comrades with their fancy dances and cutesy rhymes.
Though few guests swing through to enjoy the Mm..Food? feast, Mr. Fantastik joins Doom to criticize the snitches of rap on “Rapp Snitch Knishes,” and Angelika and 4ize rule over “Guinnesses,” a testament to Doom’s production efforts that could seemingly make any emcee sound like a gifted veteran over the feel-good scratchiness of a Doom beat. And Doom may not be far off from thinking that himself, tossing an awkward three whole instrumental tracks squarely in the middle of Mm..Food?, killing the momentum but showing off his abilities to twiddle the knobs behind the boards.
When Doom is at his best lyrically, however, he needs no assistance from guest emcees or production values as his creative ode to females on “Hoe Cakes,” to fake friends on “Deep Fried Frenz,” and to writing raw raps on “Vomitspit” all show what all of the Doom hype is about. It’s just “something.”
He even offers up something for the sweet tooth with “Kookies,” rapping, “One lonely evening alone home, end up with carpal tunnel syndrome, Here I am known for giving backaches, Grown and living off of Little Debbie snack cakes, Supposed to be checking e-mails, All I got is photos from naked ass females.” The speedy production only enhances what serves as the dessert for Mm..Food?.
Masked, hungry, and on top of the independent hip-hop game right now, MF Doom’s Mm..Food? not only avoids a sophomore slump for the comical Doom but also enters him into the realm of historic importance within the world of hip-hop. At a time when cookie-cutter songs are shoved down the factory line, Doom takes time to cut his own “kookies” and feed the starving creativity of hip-hop. Maybe it’s the mask. Maybe it’s the unconventional delivery. But whatever it is, it all comes back to: “There’s just something about him.” Mmm…mmm.