The Mask

The secret lives of hip-hop supervillain MF Doom

By all accounts, the seven years since KMD evaporated have been no kinder to Dumile. He raps about writing lyrics on the underside of a cell bunk. "I barely beat a 25-to-life bid before the Doomsday album," he remarks without elaborating. KMD collaborator MF Grimm is now doing time. It all gives a lifelong student of villainy more to mull over. (Name another MC who took the trouble to rhyme anything with "Slobodan Milosevic.")

"The whole comic-book era when I was growing up taught us a lot," Dumile says. "The way Stan Lee presented it, he showed both sides of it. It's like you see the villain's plight. Doom is the villain, but why is he the villain? He had his own little struggles that he's trying to combat."

And now, in classic Marvel style, MF Doom can switch back and forth between supervillain and mere mortal. "I was doing a show on Saturday, and I'm standing with a security guy," he says. "Somebody recognized my security from some TV show that we did a couple of days before, so they come to ask him a question about the show that particular night. Like, Yo, is Doom gonna perform 'Greenbacks'? They're asking him, but I'm standing right next to him. So you see the benefits. Like, I can be myself."

Face off: MF Doom wages war on mainstream hip hop
Face off: MF Doom wages war on mainstream hip hop

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