It's easy to forget that at one point, the MC known as MF Doom/Doom/Zev Love X was an artist pumping out critically heralded and commercially successful weird hip-hop projects to an ever-increasingly growing cult following. Today his audience is bigger than ever, but there's a big difference between the prolific masked man of old and the masked recluse who only blesses us with new verses once in a blue moon.
The last time we heard from the former was on November 15, 2004 when Rhymesayers Entertainment released MM...Food, the last album of the hyper-productive Doom era. Ten years and a Monster Island of controversies later, it remains one of the strongest statements of who Doom was/is. Here's the story of what happened with previously unknown details from some of Doom's trusted cohorts.
While most narratives surrounding Doom either focus on the period following his original group KMD being dropped from Elektra Records and the death of his brother Sub Roc that created the MF Doom character -- or the period after he became an Adult Swim darling and sent people dressed as robots to perform for him -- the 2001-2004 span of Doom's career doesn't receive as much analysis.
That's probably because Doom was so prolific that the music speaks for itself. Whether as part of Madvillain, King Geedorah or the Monsta Island Czars or rapping over a bevy of other producers' works as Viktor Vaughn or releasing volume-after-volume of instrumentals, Doom was releasing physical material at a rate that would make Kool Keith and Lil B blush. With his reputation as a dependable creator growing, there seemed to be a Wesley Willis-esque desire of indie rap imprints to possess at least one MF Doom album in their catalog.
With this era really beginning with the release of Doom's solo debut Operation Doomsday, an album-wide re-imagining of the singles he'd been putting out on trailblazing New York indie label Fondle 'Em, it's fitting that MM.. Food, technically MF Doom's sophomore album, finishes it.
With two cover art ideas rejected -- Rhymesayers and Doom each turning proposals down that don't seem to exist anywhere on the internet now -- Jason Jägel created the painting that would become the eventual cover. Referring to it as the best painting he's ever done, Jägel's original image only had Doom smoking removed for the album's official release.
The Many MM.. Food Tracklistings
These changes to the outside reflected the ever-shifting tracklisting of the project as well. Doom's original MM.. Food, which leaked to the internet the previous spring, was a 22 track affair. But before you go rushing off to Google with the aspirations of hearing unheard Doom tracks, many of these tracks were the skits that would later be amended to the end of the album's actual songs.
Differences from the eventual retail version can be heard in the middle of the album's infamous four skits having their dialogue samples isolated to just the beginning and end of each track. Well, those, an entirely different intro, and the omission of two songs entirely. The original MM.. Food didn't contain the Mr. Fantastik-assisted "Rapp Snitch Knishes." Instead, that track's instrumental backed the "Fantastic Four" samples on the album's original outro.
But the biggest difference comes from the missing track "Hot Guacamole," featuring MC Paul Barman. Barman tells us that the track, which originally sampled Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Down on the Corner" was recorded for his 2002 album Paullelujah!, at a time when Doom was a frequent figure in his life.
"We used to bump into each other on the street all the time, even when we weren't arranging to meet." Originally titled "Bollocks" (And spelled with different currency symbols), the title was changed to "Hot Guacamole" to fit the album's food theme once Doom required the track after Barman's label wasn't comfortable that the re-interpolation of the original sample was different enough.
The story continues on the next page.
"Hot Guacamole," originally sequenced after "Guinnesses" for you super-villains at hope looking to create your own MM.. Food supercut, wound up not being on the retail version of MM.. Food either, instead appearing on Mm.. Leftovers, a limited edition collection of unreleased and remixed MF Doom tracks exclusively available through purchasing the album from HipHopSite.com or at Rhymesayers' Fifth Element location.
Doom obsessives looking to horde every Doom track had to actually purchase two copies of MM.. Food as rival underground rap retailer Sandbox Automatic had their own exclusive MF Doom bonus disc, MM.. More Food, which had then-exclusive Doom remixes, as well as unreleased MF Doom produced tracks from The John Robinson Project and Rodan.
The MM.. Food Live Experience
MM.. Food didn't have a full-fledged tour, but rather select album release shows around the country that Doom would be flown to for shows that tied-in with local food drives, which fit both the album's theme and the Thanksgiving season. Joined by Brother Ali, Doom was backed by fellowed Rhymesayers artist and one-half of the Micranots, DJ Kool Akiem, who became friends with Doom while residing in New York in the '90s.
Ak tells City Pages he started backing Doom by sheer chance at a Rhymesayers showcase at SXSW: "Musab was on there, Doom was on there and I was on there. I wound up DJing for Musab and Doom that same night. Doom was like 'You wanna work this CD-J out?' and I said 'Sure.' He would like jump on stage and do it."
Ak would remain Doom's DJ for many more years, and assures us the Doom at these shows was the actual MF Doom. It terms of each night's setlists, each show was a different fulfillment of Doom's visions.
"Everything was his call on these projects," he continues. "He brought me along to work with him because of my capability and skills. We would always be making adjustments for the way the show would work. For his projects, I would throw my advice in, but it was always his call how things went. To this day, he's always tweaking what he does, and he's never lazy about his craft. That charismatic Doom on-stage isn't an accident. The New York show in particular was a big event, seeing Mos Def show up to see Doom perform."
Excerpts from these shows, all featuring Doom's perennially underrated hype-man Hassan Chop, can be seen in Rhymesayers' 2007 re-release of MM.. Food which boasted a bonus DVD and silver-foil packaging. It also has become infamous for the new version of "Kookies" which replaces the '70s "Sesame Street" closing "Funky Chimes" sample with something far less litigious.
After MM.. Food
While fans have debated whether the album title is actually pronounced "M.M. Food" or "Mmmmmm Food" for years (we can confirm from multiple sources involved with the project that it's pronounced "Mmmmm Food") what can't be disputed is the disappointment from longtime Doom devotees regarding all of the promised albums following MM.. Food that, to this day, remain unreleased.
Coming up on being a decade late are the third KMD album Mental Illness, the collaboration with Ghostface originally called Swift and Changeable now called DOOMSTARKS, Madvillain 2, and a third MF Doom album called FM Mood. With the first six months of 2005 having no Doom output seeming like an inordinate amount of time, we got the Danger Mouse produced Dangerdoom leaked in the summer of 2005.
From there (and a few remixes after) we didn't get another Doom album until 2009 and then again until 2012. There's been plenty of speculation as to why the super-villain isn't sending out as many schemes from his lair, but with Doom himself already releasing more than most entire record labels, he's prepared quite a vast buffet for us to consume.
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