How Adult Swim Got Their Hands on 15 Unreleased MF DOOM Songs
The last time we got an MF DOOM album was 2009, when he dropped Born Like This after letting the world know he'd voted for John McCain (in true villain fashion). Ever since, hardcore fans of Metalface have been starved for new music—until last week, when Adult Swim's senior vice president and creative director Jason DeMarco announced a new 15-song series called The Missing Notebook Rhymes. Our first assumption was DOOM had fleeced the network for a check by selling them 15 throwaways, but DeMarco, who has a personal relationship with the masked rapper, shoots that down quickly. "I’ve always been lucky in that whole Villain stuff," says DeMarco over the phone during a recent conversation. "[DOOM] is just a good dude. He doesn’t pull any bullshit with me, and I don’t pull any with him."
Their relationship started way back in 2005, when DJ Danger Mouse was doing music for a block of cartoons on Cartoon Network called Toonami. Danger Mouse was working with DOOM on some new music at the time and approached DeMarco about getting Adult Swim involved. The album, which later became The Mouse and the Mask, was originally supposed to be based on Toonami cartoons, but DeMarco saw a different opportunity. "I said, ‘Well I don’t think anybody wants a Toonami album, but an Adult Swim album might be cool,’" he remembers. "DOOM loves all those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and at that time, we were still showing Sealab 2021, so it just seemed like a more natural fit. Basically, Adult Swim funded the album and put it out with Epitaph, and for the time, it was sort of an indie hit. It almost went gold, which is pretty good. Nowadays, that’d be like a huge mega hit. Back then it was like, ‘Huh… that’s pretty good.’"
Ever since, DeMarco and DOOM have kept in touch, and when DOOM and his manager Devin Horwitz approached DeMarco about some new tracks they'd cultivated sometime in 2016, it was the perfect opportunity to put out something resembling a new project from the masked villain. "I kinda said, ‘I feel like it’s been so long since DOOM’s really had a big splash of tracks. I think it’d be really cool to just drop ‘em all and do one every week and let people know DOOM is back,'" remembers DeMarco. "Luckily, they kind of liked that idea and we were able to make it happen, but we’ve been talking about it for at least a year, and I’ve been sitting on all this DOOM music."
Last week, they premiered "Negus," a collab with Sean Price off the late Brownsville MC's new posthumous album Imperius Rex. On Wednesday (Aug. 16), they dropped the second track from the series, this time featuring Jay Electronica. It's called "True Lightyears" and it's off an upcoming KMD album called Crack in Time, the first LP from the group since Black Bastards dropped in 1993, the same year DOOM's brother Subroc died in a car accident.
According to DeMarco, all the songs in The Missing Notebook Rhymes series are brand new, with some being collaborations while others will be solo DOOM songs featuring new production from the villain. As for whether a solo DOOM album is coming sometime soon, DeMarco can't say. "I just know some of this music is from ongoing projects that are in various stages of completion, and it’s likely that most of it will come out through those channels."
Though Adult Swim has released a couple of the last few Madvillain loosies via their Adult Swim Singles series in past years, there aren't any DOOM and Madlib collabs planned for The Missing Notebook Rhymes. There will, however, be appearances from different DOOM aliases, including Viktor Vaughn.
Two years ago, when Sean Price died, DOOM released a video on a boat saying rest in peace to the Heltah Skeltah legend. Years back, it was reported DOOM was being kept from reentering the states (he was born in the U.K.), and the video of him on a boat sparked inquiries about where the hell he was. DeMarco knows where he's located, but wont' say, only telling XXL, "I know where he is, and he’s not in the country. I think that’s perfect. He’s on DOOM Island. That’s where he should be."
There's no word yet on whether all 15 of the planned DOOM songs will be released via iTunes and various streaming services, but DeMarco hopes the project will inspire someone to pick them up and release them properly. "My hope is this project catapults him back out there and somebody at a label who wasn’t gonna spend money on DOOM will now call him up and put these tracks out. We’re a television network, we’re not a label, so we’re not gonna be putting out vinyl and selling records, but I do think, I hope, anyway, this project reminds everybody how great DOOM is and that somebody needs to gather this music and put it out for his fans."
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