MF DOOM Live Concert @ Ancienne Belgique Bruxelles

Aadesh Khadka

Many people listen to rap, from deep lyricism to mellow lo-fi, however, there are very few who have dug into the world of underground rap. Many take MF DOOM as their gateway into this world. Daniel Dumile, also known as MF DOOM, was a British-American rapper, who moved to Long Island, NY, in order to pursue his love for rap. MF DOOM was known, and is still known, for his intricate rap with sophisticated interlude and narrative. He had built his own empire of comical rap, where the rappers like Stan Smith had a light of hope into the end of the tunnel. As many underground artists don’t get the recognition for their art because they are undermined by the critics for elaborative lyricism, however DOOM paved the way for many other artists by making the “underground” rap scene a contemporary aesthetic. Many skateboarders, and parkour athletes used the MF DOOM type of song in their videos to make it aesthetically appealing. Sadly, MF DOOM passed away last year, leaving a blank space for his fans, as many were expecting a long awaited album sequel of MADVILLIANY. MADVILLIANY was one of the iconic albums drafted by MF DOOM, produced by Madlib, and featured with a lot of underground rappers like Quasimoto. However the sequel to MADVILLIANY was declared to not come out after MF DOOM’s death.

His death was not expected and it was anxiously strange, as his death itself was announced 2 months after his it had happened. The aftermath was horrendous, disheartening, and gloomy, a complete doomsday. It was tragic because the amount of people he influenced were not expecting his death, as many claimed that they were looking forward to future collaboration, whatsoever many gave tribute to the legendary DOOM. One of the unique and most thought provoking tribute was from Stann Smith, one of the underground rappers, who did an album tribute called SOBERDOOM which was unique and astounding. This type of album has never been heard of, considering its time length– 14 minutes– and wide storyline that it covered. Additionally, it had MF DOOM, as a character featuring some verse, but surprisingly the MF DOOM part in the album was crafted by AI computerized because DOOM had already passed away by the time. Not only does he intuitively use DOOM’s voice, but also makes him an antagonist in his narrative. The whole album is a storyline, shading the character of real MF DOOM, with Stan Smith’s own character of SOBERDOOM. 

SOBERDOOM is contextualized with the idea of MADVILLIANY, attributing MF DOOM with his ill, villainy, and criminal persona. MF DOOM is known for his nefarious act of drinking, killing, stealing, and other horrendous crime in both real and fictional life. Even MF DOOM to a certain degree is fictional, a fictional villain like MASKED JASON, JOKER, and so on. The whole story of SOBERDOOM depends on this very basis of power and corruption, which is an essential skill or benefit to make oneself to become more stronger and powerful.  Regardless of this wide reaching power hold of MF DOOM through crime, and corruption, he still has one power that is missing. The power is the “lost art of sobriety.” I didn’t understand the the theme of sobriety, however upon the closer inspection, I had discovered that the whole storyline of SOBERDOOM was portraying the loss of protagonist, SOBERDOOM, who was sober, his power was sobriety, whereas MF DOOM was not sober, that’s the only art that he didn’t have, thus he wanted to steal that lost art of sobriety. 

To become invincible, he needs that power, for which he needs to deceive Stann Smith–SOBERDOOM. SO the whole narrative of this album is about MF DOOM using his art of deception to trap the SOBERDOOM into a “deal” and trick him with the copy of MF  DOOM– DOOMBOT– and send him to prison. I loved the album of it had multiple perceptions, the perception of the narrative, the protagonist– SOBERDOOM– , the antagonist– MF DOOM. It appealed to me because of its intricate layout, beautiful organization, and literary usages. For example the song started with narrator voice “As the Metal-Faced villain got older, he realized his dependence on alcohol was his biggest weakness. By good fortune he came across a gentleman who claimed to have the key to unlocking the lost heart of sobriety..” which made me hook into the question of, what is lost heart of sobriety. And the narrator’s voice echoed before and end of every song, which made the album less of a rap but more of a story. I had never heard of this type of album, where the interlude–narrator’s voice–were so important. Other important notes were the usage of literary devices like allusion. For example Stann raps, ”Cause ever since the jet killed Mamba, I couldn’t ponder/ How…I’m gon’ build a Wakanda among a monster/ ’Cause Plymouth Rock landed on ghettos to kill our fathersWhich uses a variety of literary devices, specifically allusion by referencing himself as Kobe Bryant and Wakanda, as they are seen as heroes against the foes of society. The influence of Kobe and Wakanda had such an immaculate impact on the young generation, as they taught many young kids to grow strong, fortify against the odds, and beat fear during DIRE TIMES. Lastly, the narrator leaves a mystery, which was very beautiful and intriguing, as it sparked a different curiosity and forced myself to ponder and wonder about the aftermath, “Will he even make it out of this prison alive?