Run-DMC had the hats. Flavor Flav had the clock. Kool Moe Dee had those stupid wraparound sunglasses. The Fat Boys had their, uh, fat...ness.
DOOM has the mask. It's iconic; maybe the most iconic piece of hip-hop regalia. It's like Van Gogh's ear--it defines him, has only a little to do with his work, obscures the work, and everyone reads a lot into it. But it's that killer symbol everyone knows. I bet you right this minute at a university somewhere, someone is typing a paper about how Doom's mask subverts and reclaims minstrelsy (c.f. the Black Bastards cover; sending out impersonators is just like something Al Jolson did or some shit; and "From their point of the view, we‘re the villains. But I‘m the Super-Villain. All caps." see, he's commenting on the demonization of the Black male and blah blah blah...).
I've wondered why Doom overtook Kool Keith a few years ago...every time Doom puts out another re-tread/remix EP/re-release/40-minute-album-where-he's-only-on-a-couple-of-songs everyone falls all over themselves. Kool Keith? Put out 3 records last year too. Didn't see that on everyone's blog or in the goddamn New Yorker.
See, Van Gogh and Gauguin ran tight like that. Then Van Gogh cuts his ear off and Gauguin bops off to Tahiti and paints a bunch of naked native chicks. And who's got a whole museum in Amsterdam? It ain't the guy who painted the equivalent of Sex Style and Bikinis N Thongs.
Granted, Doom is better at making and picking beats than Kool Keith. He has one of the best flows in all hip-hop. He's got that Biggie's-wino-uncle voice. Lyrically though, it's all beautifully internally rhymed total fucking nonsense. Yeah, I said it. Listen to this reverent spoken-word rendition and tell me otherwise. His songs rarely have a subject; they're just clever lines strung together (even in his rhyme books, according to the goddamn New Yorker.) Could be reading out his shopping list: Minute Maid for the meter maid, she likes that lemonade, sour, bag up the all-purpose flour; zucchini, macaroni, pass that Rice-A-Roni. (This is also true for Zack De La Rocha: EGGS! AND! DON'T FORGET! THE! ENGLISH! MUUUUUUUUUUFFINS!)
Look, Ghostface and K-The-I???, to name two, also spit straight up don't-know-what-he-said-book, but you always feel there's meaning behind it. With Doom, he just spits. But as Noz pointed out, hop-hop was built on incomprehensible gibberish. Fine. He's the Black John Ashbery. It's free association. It's word salad. All caps and all tangents. But there's too much talent there--he could do rap's Finnegan's Wake if he wanted to. If hip-hop is Black America's CNN (© Chuck D)--and these days more like QVC--Doom is, obviously, Adult Swim cartoons. All good I guess, but I guarantee that schtick is gonna get old...
So I say, Doom: take off the mask. Give it to us from the heart. Peep it:
Q: Has anything ever come close to equaling how you felt when Scott LaRock died, and then Subroc died?
Doom: Everything else is grey.
Q: Why don‘t you just put out an album that says, Shit is fucked up for twenty-something people of color? Why go through the mask and the characters and outer space?
Doom: Can‘t say it like that. Out here it‘s been so desensitized, that‘s not going to... everybody just turns their back on that shit. I had to figure out a way to get the point across, still make it interesting without making it corny, or making it seem like a race thing.
Oh. Right. Which explains the three-headed outerspace monster Ghidra thing. You might wanna work on that, Doomy.
Whatever. Don't overthink it, let the fat guy with the mask do his thing. The flow is too sick to hate on.
So here we gots some remixes, official and unofficial, released and unreleased. Big ups to PSY/OPSogist for hooking me up some new ones; props to the Sleepy 5 Orchestra and sorry I couldn't jam your Hoe Cakes in there.
Who Is DOOM?! / It Ain't Nuttin' (The Dirty Sample Mix) / Monday Night At Fluid / All Outta Ale (Blockhead Mix) / Change The Beat (DJ Phonetic Mos Def Mix) / My Favorite Ladies (Inhumanz & Latina Mixes) / Ghostwhirl/Rock Co Kane Flow (PSY/OPSogist Mix) / Rhinestone Cowboy (Doom & Four Tet Mix) / Vomitspit (Problem Child Mix) / Melody (PSY/OPSogist Mix) / Distant Star - Heliocentrics (feat. Doom) / Strange Ways (Koushik Mix) / Melody (Komsik Ridiculoid Mix) / Gazzillion Ear (Dr. Who Dat? Mix) / Air (Black Cat The Mouse Trainer Mix) / Impending Doom (Clutchy Hopkins Mix) / Rock Co Kane Flow (Tom Caruana Mix) / Melody (Black Cat The Mouse Trainer Mix) / Change The Beat (Q-Fish Mix) / Air (Clutchy Hopkins Mix) / Blacklist - Prefuse 73 (feat. Doom) / Experience Accordion - Daedelus & Madvillain / Great Day (Four Tet Mix) / My Favorite Ladies (Zhierut Mix) / Hip Hop (DJ Phonetic Mos Def Mix) / I Hear Voices (Live) / Is This The End Of DOOM?!