What do a gravel-voiced emcee that rhymes in non-sequiturs and a producer with a penchant for obscure samples have in common? Not a whole lot. But when these musicians collaborate, they exhibit the quirky genius that hip hop enthusiasts have grown to love. Danger Doom, the duo comprising MF Doom and Dangermouse, has released its entertaining debut, The Mouse and the Mask–– a comical album featuring the liveliest characters from Adult Swim.
Now for those who aren’t acquainted with the characters on Adult Swim, don’t worry. Neither am I. In fact, I was a little hesitant to buy this album because I thought it was for the “in crowd.” That is, I thought only people who watched late night cartoons would get all the jokes peppered throughout the album. But even if fans of Doom and Dangermouse aren’t familiar with characters like Master Shake (who leaves hilarious messages on Doom’s answering machine), the Mooninites, or Sofa King, the beats, lyricism, and skits will transport listeners into the world that these characters inhabit.
The album gets off to a good start with “El Chupa Nibre,” where MF Doom spits funny lines like, “Chew an MC like El Chupa Nibre/ Digest the group and sell the poop on eBay.” Dangermouse’s production shines as well. It’s hard to tell whether Dangermouse incorporated real flutes or if he sampled them. Either way, the track is hot. One might complain about the bleeped-out expletives, but the bleeps only make the song that much funnier.
While the album boasts mostly of head-bangers, some songs undoubtedly shine more than others. Guest emcees Ghostface and Talib Kweli bless “The Mask” and “Old School” respectively. Ghostface and Kweli demonstrate their love for superhero adventures and cartoons without a trace of corniness (considering the subject matter, lesser emcees would have released lackluster verses). Even Cee-Lo’s buttery vocals blend seamlessly, as evidenced on the song “Benzie Box,” the smoothest cut on the album.
There’s not much more we can say about MF Doom’s skills that we haven’t heard before. He’s simply dope. From dismissing guns on “Vats of Urine” to calling out Space Ghost on “Space Ho’s,” Doom infuses his rhymes with wry humor and sardonic wit. Not to be outdone, however, is Dangermouse, whose production is deceptively spare. Just when you fear his beats might turn flat, he sprinkles horns, flutes, and of course, cartoon voices to add much needed complexity to the songs.
If there’s anything left to say about this album, it’s that it reminds us to laugh. With all the gun play and even all the ultra-serious political songs coming out these days, Danger Doom’s album provides hot music with sharp doses of humor. Let’s just hope this isn’t the last time we hear from this duo.