Rapper MF Doom Dies At 49

Daniel Dumile, best known as rapper and producer MF Doom, died in October, his wife, Jasmine, announced on Instagram.

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Daniel Dumile, best know as the rapper and producer MF Doom, died on October 31, his wife announced on the artist’s Instagram page on Thursday afternoon. He was 49.

One of the most celebrated, unpredictable and enigmatic figures in independent hip-hop, Dumile was born in London, but relocated to New York City as a child. He began his music career under the name Zev Lov X as part of the trio K.M.D. alongside his brother DJ Subroc, and the group had a minor hit in the early 1990s. After Subroc was killed in a car accident in 1993, the group disbanded, and Dumile retreated from public view, only to reemerge toward the end of the decade with a new name and an extravagant new persona.

Now calling himself MF Doom and wearing a metal mask inspired by the Marvel Comics villain Dr. Doom, Dumile released “Operation: Doomsday” in 1999. Produced by Dumile himself under the pseudonym Metal Fingers, the album couldn’t have been more out of step with hip-hop’s mainstream; featuring Dumile’s signature plainspoken flow and head-spinning volleys of intricate internal rhymes, off-the-wall cultural references and non-sequiturs, the album gained him a sizable cult following.

Dumile’s career was anything but straightforward, and he followed up the notoriety gained through “Doomsday” with a flurry of collaborations, instrumental releases and projects under the alternate alias Viktor Vaughn. His aligned with the influential Minneapolis label Rhymesayers for his second album as Doom, “Mm...Food,” in late 2004, but it was another project from earlier that year that truly established him among the uppermost ranks of independent hip-hop figures. Released via the Highland Park indie Stones Throw, “Madvillainy” united Dumile with California producer Madlib, with whom he established an uncanny chemistry. By turns cerebral and goofy, drugged-out and lucid, the album offered heady, jagged-edged collages of jazz samples and obscure film dialog, while Doom’s rhymes were as absurd, inventive, hilarious and endlessly quotable as ever. The album saw Dumile enter the lower rungs of the Billboard top 200 album chart, and brought with it substantial press attention and praise from some of the biggest names in hip-hop.

The following year, Dumile returned to the charts ― this time breaking into the top 50 ― via a collaboration with producer Danger Mouse, dubbed “The Mouse and the Mask.” Dumile’s subsequent recording career was characteristically erratic, releasing plenty of unexpected projects (including repeat work with Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim), while other long-rumored collaborations (particularly a joint album with the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah) failed to materialize. Never seen in public without his metal mask, Dumile became notorious for sometimes sending masked impostors to lip-sync in his stead at concerts; asked about this habit by Rolling Stone, he explained, “everything we do is villain-style.”

His last full album as Doom (having since dropped the MF) was released in 2009 ― titled “Born Like This,” it featured production from Madlib as well as the late J Dilla, and saw Dumile break into the album charts for the first time as a solo artist.

Jeremy Bulloch

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