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DOOM, “Back Like That” [Online Exclusive Feature Story]

WORDS BOGAR ALONSO (@blacktiles)

The Voyager spacecraft carry golden records that contain the sights and sounds that best depict life, as we know it. If aliens were ever to receive them, it would be like cycling through a ‘70s version of Google. Had the spacecraft been launched today, one DOOM album might have done the job. And they certainly wouldn’t just listen to it once.

Hip-hop for all its glitter, capitalist tendencies, and militant roots, has been something of a musical Wikipedia. Not only do its lyrics circumnavigate the pop culture sphere, it presents our media exploits in sampled snippets of forgotten records, overlooked joints, and Kung Fu shenanigans. No man, or supervillain, has contributed more to this musical collage than Daniel Dumile better known as DOOM, whose schizophrenic production was born in the days of KMD. “Not your traditional hip-hop shit,” asserts the masked rapper.

His most recent release Key to the Kuffs, under the newly formed JJ DOOM moniker, carries on the usual DOOM torch (which might just burn green, for all we know). As a unit, JJ DOOM consists of producer/vocalist Jneiro Jarel and the masked villain, who now goes simply as DOOM, minus the “MF.” Since the group first unveiled “Banished” in February, the anticipation for Key to the Kuffs grew, and with its release last week, it certainly doesn’t disappoints. The album operates in a chrome sullenness that hasn’t come out of DOOM since his days as Viktor Vaughn. Although the MC didn’t set out to build off his criminally underrated Vaudeville Villain, he can see how the two projects could be fraternal twins as he considers Jneiro Jarel “one of his brothers.” Asked if he could picture his latest musical partner being part of a potential Vaudeville Villain 3, DOOM roared, “Oh, definitely,” DOOM told “Once you put it in the air, someone’s going to come up with a budget. All I need is a budget, and I get busy.” The man certainly has done so, working on the album for the past two years despite being forced to live away from his family. Although he was raised before the boom bap years of hip-hop in Long Island, New York, a recent passport mishap clipped his wings, and had him grounded in London.

If Born Like This consisted of DOOM’s nightmares, Key to the Kuffs is his plasma. Not blood plasma, because villains don’t bleed, but the kind of plasma stars are made of. While Dumile has been through worse, tracks like “Winter Blues” bring insight into his current state of seclusion. The space age reverbs provided by Jarel must do the bleeding for DOOM, who “only needs one warm hug to keep from turning off.” He laments, “I need a handful of melanin/ Feelin’ like the lambs wool beard on your tender skin/ Eat’er up like a Snack well/ We could live forever like Henrietta Lacks’ cells.” Who would have known that the mad villain’s kryptonite was love?


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