Born Like This

It’s been five years since his last solo effort, MM…Food?, but on Born Like This, Doom—hip-hop’s most beloved and elusive cult figure—picks up right where he left off.

Despite the name change (he dropped the MF this time out), Daniel Dumile is the same bitter, bugged-out, masked supervillain he was on his 1999 debut, Operation: Doomsday. Whether he’s differentiating himself from the herd on the postapocalyptic “Cellz” (“Candy corn crap rappers pale by comparison/A bad Samaritan averagin’ above average men”) or making fun of snuggly dressed rap rivals on “Batty Boys” (“Oh shoot, get a load of that fruit”), Doom keeps his character intact.

While he still dishes rhymes like dimes (check the aptly titled “More Rhymin’”), the rapper/producer wasn’t as effective diggin’ in the crates. Aside from recycled beats (“That’s That” and “Still Dope”), which previously appeared on his Special Herbs instrumental series, and an old Dilla favorite (“Lightworks”), the album’s production falls short. The inclusion of the 2005 Ghostface collabo “Angelz” may also make Stans cringe, but the newly laid, Raekwon-assisted “Yessir!” makes up for most of Metal Face’s transgressions.

As he’s never been one to conform, it’s impossible to hold the Villain to industry standards, but a more exclusive track listing would’ve made Doom’s rebirth that much more super. –JESSE GISSEN