On this day, April 20th, in hip-hop history…
1999: Formerly known as Zevlove X of the politically charged K.M.D. crew, Daniel Dumile re-emerged as MF DOOM for the first time to release his debut solo album, Operation: Doomsday. This dramatic reinvention of himself as an artist came after a seemingly mysterious hiatus from the hip-hop scene, and simultaneously laid the foundation for his domination in the underground hip-hop scene for years to come.
In 1993, Daniel’s brother and K.M.D. partner, DJ Sub-Roc, was fatally struck by a car. That same week, Elektra Records dropped K.M.D. from their roster before they could release their second album. Those events would push Daniel into a very dark place. He distanced himself from music altogether, but when he finally did return years later, he came back with his image modeled after the Marvel super-villain Dr. Doom. He donned an iron mask and went by Metal Face Doom.
Released on Fondle ‘Em Records, Operation: Doomsday boasted some off-the-wall production. It featured everything from soulful smooth jazz samples to Scooby Doo to what some would even call elevator music. Such production with MF DOOM’s unconventionally raw but clever lyrical delivery made for a deadly combination. That was evident on “Rhymes Like Dimes” when he boasts, “I’m saying- electromagnetic field it blocks all logic, Spock/ And G-Shocks her biological clock.”
There’s no doubt that MF DOOM carved out a lane for himself with Operation: Doomsday. His influence on the rap game is still making an impact. Newcomers like Odd Future and Pro Era covered their faces with masks on stage or in videos and even included DOOM’s samples in their music. Even Kanye West has been wearing different masks on his face for his Yeezus Tour. MF DOOM made one thing clear with his debut release: that he was here to stay.—Jamal Bell