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MF DOOM (and/or the Imposter) Sucks Live

Let me preface this blog by saying I’m a huge DOOM fan. Seriously, I’ve been rocking with dude forever. I got all his solo shit, the Victor Vaughn, King Geedorah side projects, all the Special Herbs instrumental albums—I even own a limited-edition copy of Special Herbs, Vol 1 on vinyl with the famed Marvel cover art. I mean the standom runs extra deep (II– ha!). I think the man stands among the greats lyrically—yes, I said it—and his taste for loops is impeccable. I even made it a priority to turn a million of my friends, acquaintances and co-workers onto him because the guy is just that ill.

But let’s get one thing clear, he absolutely sucks live. Granted, I only saw him perform once or twice, but that was more than enough. You see, the masked super-villain makes headphone music in the truest sense. The best way to enjoy a dude like DOOM is by yourself on the train, so you can catch all the lil metaphors and witty references. Tom Briehan said it best back when he was writing for the Village Voice.

“…his music isn’t even remotely suited for a live show. On record, his under-the-breath all-tangent flow is compellingly mysterious, especially when paired with swirling low-fi beats. It’s headphones stuff. Onstage, he doesn’t have the advantage of that mystery; he’s just a chubby dude in a mask rapping too loud over muddy beats…”

Yet despite all the shitty show reviews (we’re far from the only ones), the indie favorite still manages to sell tickets. Now here’s the best part, it’s rumored that half the time he’s not even present at the concert. You all heard the controversy, on several occasions it’s believed that MF had one of his cronies don his signature metal mask and jump onstage.

The hullabaloo continued recently when DOOM, who was born Daniel Dumile, played Chicago. New York magazine’s Vulture blog (who has some great hip-hop coverage) investigated to some hilarious results. Apparently now Doom, or the imposter, is believed to be lip syncing.

The promoter of the said gig, Harry Knuckles had this to say: “…it was pretty obvious that the guy was lip-syncing, but we can’t say that it wasn’t Dumile. If Dumile lip-syncs because he is too fat, alcoholic and out of breath to spit his own verse, I guess that’s what it has come to now.

In an interview with Wax Poetics from December 2008, Metal Face addressed the issue.

…you never know what to expect. I’ll fuck around and do some shit like that, just to fuck around with a nigga head. ‘Cause I’m like this: it’s music; I’m doing the shows; the stage is my canvas; I’ll put whatever up there for the visible eye. But it’s music, for listening to. Looking at it has nothing to do with what it sounds like. A blind person could be at the show and feel it clearly, but don’t see nothing of it. Don’t matter what the shit look like. Look, was niggas rockin’ or was niggas rockin’? See, I’m snapping niggas out of it. I might change my mind and want to retire from that part. I’m not sweating my ass out onstage no more. I’ve spit hundreds of thousands of lyrics, time and time again. Maybe I’ll take a break, or maybe never come back. That’s my choosing as an artist. And it’s their choosing to criticize it too. But that’s my other job—to snap niggas out of it.”

Now here’s some questions for you: Why do fans continue to go see DOOM play? Why do promoters continue to book him? Will your man suffer from this reputation he’s established or is his cult following just too loyal? What do y’all think, have you ever seen a live DOOM live show?

Speak on it. —Jesse Gissen

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