MF Doom, or just Doom (both in all caps), was the stage name of British-American rapper and record producer Daniel Dumile. In the 2000s, Dumile rose to prominence as an important player in underground hip hop and alternative hip hop thanks to his complex wordplay, trademark metal mask, and “supervillain” stage presence. Following his death, Variety called him one of the “most celebrated, unexpected, and mysterious individuals” in the scene.
Dumile was born in London but grew up on Long Island in New York. In 1988, he launched his career as Zev Love X, performing with the band KMD. When DJ Subroc, Dumile’s brother, passed away in 1993, the group broke up. Dumile resurfaced again in the late ’90s after an extended absence.
To promote his debut solo album, Operation: Doomsday (1999), he made the common practice of performing at open mic nights while donning a metal mask like that of the Marvel Comics supervillain Doctor Doom. After taking up the MF Doom identity, he rarely appeared in public without his mask on.
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MF Doom Death
Rapper and producer Daniel Dumile, also known as MF DOOM, passed away on October 31, his wife Jasmine Dumile announced on Thursday via an Instagram post. It was not disclosed what ultimately caused her death. In human years, he had already reached the age of 49.
Dumile, who was born in London on January 9, 1971, but grew up on Long Island, N.Y., had his rapping debut in the late ’80s as a member of the group KMD, using the stage name Zev Love X. There are two albums by the band available: 1991’s Mr. Hood and 1993’s Black Bastards (finalized in 1996), released in 2001. Andrew Nosnitsky, a journalist who specializes in hip-hop, referred to the latter as “a rare forgotten gem.”
He changed his name to MF DOOM after being influenced by the Marvel character Dr. Doom, and in 1999 he self-released an album called Operation: Doomsday. With his own production that sampled old soul and funk, he delivered bars that were both lighthearted and twisted in their complexity.
Many more albums were released in the 2000s, including solo efforts (such as 2004’s MM..FOOD and 2009’s Born Like This) and collaborative efforts (such as Madvillainy with Madlib and The Mouse and the Mask with Danger Mouse), as well as albums under various aliases (such as Viktor Vaughn and King Geedorah). He has also worked with Ghostface Killah and MF Grimm as a music producer.
It’s no surprise that MF DOOM, like the comic book heroes he admired, hid his identity behind a mask when he performed.
Why did MF Doom wear a mask?
MF Doom modeled himself after the Fantastic Four’s archvillain Doctor Doom, including adopting the latter’s signature mask. The cover art for the album Operation Doomsday, released in 1999, features Doctor Doom rapping. The mask, Dumile explained to the New Yorker, “came out of necessity.”
He planned to use a series of albums to introduce and develop a character with a full history. Eventually, the plot would come together; eventually, it would succeed and gain widespread attention. People were now demanding to see shows, and I had no idea how to accommodate them.
“I wanted to stand up there and orate without anyone thinking about the usual topics people worry about,” Dumile explained. “Such as when women are all, ‘Oh, he’s sexy,’ or ‘I don’t want him, he’s ugly,’ and then other men are assessing you. The eyes have it: a picture is worth a thousand words.
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But if there must be an initial impression, I might as well utilize mine to steer the narrative. After all, why not just put on a mask?” he said. I did the scripting and the directing. Without the mask, people would be like, “Who the f*** is this?”
Mf Doom Career
In 1988, Dumile, along with his younger brother DJ Subroc and Rodan (who was later replaced by Onyx the Birthstone Kid), created the hip hop trio KMD under the moniker Zev Love X. Dante Ross, an A&R rep for Elektra Records, discovered KMD through the hip hop group 3rd Bass and signed them.
First heard on 3rd Bass’ “The Gas Face” of The Cactus Album, the band would go on to release their own self-titled first album in 1991. Pete Nice claims that Dumile came up with the term “The Gas Face” in his rap, and it was Dumile who delivered the song’s last verse.
Subroc was killed by an automobile while crossing the Long Island Expressway on April 23, 1993, two days before the release of the second KMD album, Black Bastards. This album, which Dumile completed independently over the course of several months, was scheduled for release on May 3, 1994.
Due to the record’s provocative cover art depicting a cartoon of a stereotyped pickaninny or sambo character being hanged, Elektra dismissed KMD and the album was never published.