The new album from DOOM is called Born Like This, a nod to a line from Charles Bukowskiâ€™s post-apocalyptic poem, â€œDinosauria, We.â€ The poem, rife with the kind of imagery that only genius could fabricate, appears on â€œCellzâ€ in the middle of this new album, quickly reinforced by DOOMâ€™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 â€œCellz.â€ 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 Seattleâ€™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 â€œYessir!â€). Along with the inimitable Bukowski, Danger Mouse, and the folks who produce Comedy Centralâ€™s Adult Swim, DOOMâ€™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 Iâ€™ve ever heard. Heâ€™s got a proven track record, and a long list of albums, but this album doesnâ€™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 doesnâ€™t have the urgency of some of DOOMâ€™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. DOOMâ€™s incredible repeater-rifle raps? Check. The mask? Check.
To make things worse, thereâ€™s a fag-bashing song, â€œBatty-Boys,â€ which is a great song, but the content seems below him. This from the â€œRhinestone Cowboy,â€ from he who â€œhold heat and preach non-violence?â€ Thereâ€™s no shortage of homo-hatred in hip-hop and in black culture in America, and granted, the song seems to be more about DOOMâ€™s problem with specific persons, but itâ€™s still a fag-bashing song. Whatever you feel about it, itâ€™s worth a listen and if it pisses you off, then at leastÂ you can’tÂ say that nobodyÂ warned you.
The best thing about a DOOM album is that even a mediocre DOOM album is a good listen. â€œYessir!â€ and the verbal lightning bolts thrown by Raekwon, the trippy production of the somehow frightening â€œLightworks,â€ the old-school MF DOOM verbal cold-cock of â€œMore Rhyminâ€™â€ and the super-hero panache of some bona fide rap superstars on â€œSupervillainzâ€ are sure to throw DOOM fans in favor of this album. For those unfamiliar with Metal Fingers aka Viktor Vaughn aka DOOM, itâ€™s a good introductory course, but youâ€™ll want to dig those talons deeper if you love raw rap. Solid if not distinguished among DOOMâ€™s greater works, maybe this one was â€œfor the feta,â€ as announced on â€œSupervillain Intro.â€ 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