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The new album from DOOM is called Born Like This, a nod to a line from Charles Bukowski’s post-apocalyptic poem, “Dinosauria, We.” The poem, rife with the kind of imagery that only genius could fabricate, appears on “Cellz” in the middle of this new album, quickly reinforced by DOOM’s sometimes apocalyptic encryptions.

MF DOOM is a genius in his own right. His style of rapping is infectious and his rhymes tend to be train-of-thought sentence fragments with multiple layers of meaning and references. He goes off like a shotgun on everything from license plate color schemes to dual ominous connotations in the aforementioned “Cellz.” Cells are the building blocks of nature, ripe for disease, and the rooms where prisoners do their time.


Apart from his lyrical genius and the syncopation of his flow that essentially turns his voice into a part of the percussion, the cats he drags in with him tend to be some of the dopest. He has worked with Seattle’s own Jake One on White Van Music, Madlib, (another local) on the Madvillainy collaboration, De La Soul, and his pedigree goes way back to Grand Puba and Sadat X. For this album, executive produced by (surprise!) Seattle native JDilla, DOOM brings in Ghostface Killah, a long praise-heavy answering machine message from Freddy Foxx, Kurious, Empress Starhh Tha Femcee, and probably the best single flow I have ever heard from Raekwon (who kills it on “Yessir!”). Along with the inimitable Bukowski, Danger Mouse, and the folks who produce Comedy Central’s Adult Swim, DOOM’s alliances are among the most eclectic in any medium. Hip-hop is born of the mix-up, of reference, and DOOM is the reigning champion of the proverbial left field, where the wildest shit comes from.

All that said, this album is not the best DOOM album I’ve ever heard. He’s got a proven track record, and a long list of albums, but this album doesn’t gel as well as Madvillainy, nor incite riotous laughter like DangerDoom. I missed his last album, MM FOOD, and his recent EP with Ghostface Killah and J Dilla, but Born Like This just doesn’t have the urgency of some of DOOM’s earlier work. He settles into his flows later on the album, and honestly could do away with three or four of the early tracks without losing much. BLT seems as if it were formulated to achieve the same effect as earlier work without pushing the boundaries so much. Weird production and odd, old-sounding snippets of dialogue? Check. DOOM’s incredible repeater-rifle raps? Check. The mask? Check.


To make things worse, there’s a fag-bashing song, “Batty-Boys,” which is a great song, but the content seems below him. This from the “Rhinestone Cowboy,” from he who “hold heat and preach non-violence?” There’s no shortage of homo-hatred in hip-hop and in black culture in America, and granted, the song seems to be more about DOOM’s problem with specific persons, but it’s still a fag-bashing song. Whatever you feel about it, it’s worth a listen and if it pisses you off, then at least you can’t say that nobody warned you.

The best thing about a DOOM album is that even a mediocre DOOM album is a good listen. “Yessir!” and the verbal lightning bolts thrown by Raekwon, the trippy production of the somehow frightening “Lightworks,” the old-school MF DOOM verbal cold-cock of “More Rhymin’” and the super-hero panache of some bona fide rap superstars on “Supervillainz” are sure to throw DOOM fans in favor of this album. For those unfamiliar with Metal Fingers aka Viktor Vaughn aka DOOM, it’s a good introductory course, but you’ll want to dig those talons deeper if you love raw rap. Solid if not distinguished among DOOM’s greater works, maybe this one was “for the feta,” as announced on “Supervillain Intro.” But just like fine cheese, it gets better with age: after repeated listens the album starts to come together. Give it a few spins before you pass judgement.

Photos courtesy of the DOOM Myspace page

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