Graphic by Sam Papavsiliou
Graphic by Sam Papavsiliou

Bidding Farewell to Hip Hop’s Masked Villain

The world remembers a legend

On Thursday December 31, the music world was stunned by the unforeseen announcement that one of hip hop’s most interesting figures, MF DOOM, had passed away earlier in the year at the age of 49.

The announcement came via social media post on the artist’s official Instagram profile. It included a picture of the famed rapper posing while boasting a white New York Knicks jersey, camouflage printed cargo pants and trademark gladiator mask that he became infamous for throughout his career. Along with this photo was a short message addressed to DOOM by his wife Jasmine, in which she thanked her late husband for the lifelong lessons and memories she had acquired during their time together.

Underneath the heartfelt message read “Transitioned October 31, 2020,” two entire months before the world was made aware of his passing. To the unbeknown music novice this may seem odd or at the very least peculiar, but to MF DOOM fans across the world, it fit the allure the legendary rapper garnered over the last 20 years.

DOOM’s public image has always been shrouded in mystery and mystique. Choosing to don a medieval gladiator mask in practically all appearances in public, he set out to create a conceptual experience for his audience that spanned further than himself. Over the years his albums released with no particular scheduling pattern compared to other artists, only dropping new projects when he felt the world was ready.

There are many documented accounts where concert goers who paid to see the artist perform were subjected to an “imposter” who recited his songs, until the MC eventually appeared on stage. For the outsider looking in, this would be a dishonest way to coerce fans out hard-earned money, but to DOOM this furthered the brilliance of the enigma he created.

Born Daniel Dumile, MF DOOM was one of three different alter egos (the other two being Viktor Vaughn and King Geedorah) Dumile created during his illustrious career as a producer and MC. MF DOOM, the most popular of Dumile’s three personas, rose to prominence as a staple in the underground hip-hop community in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Equipped with lyrical content that strayed far left of the status quo, and blending it with beats that were framed around sample snippets of old cartoons and songs that were not typical in hip-hop production, his debut album “Operation Doomsday” pushed the creative envelope like no other album at the time. Past his initial success, he gained notoriety as one half of the revered hip-hop coalition Madvillain along side producer Madlib. Their 2004 album “Madvillainy” is regarded as being one of hip-hop’s most influential albums in history, also procuring DOOM the moniker of “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.”

As the news of his untimely passing spread quickly on New Year’s Eve, fans and fellow artists alike took to the internet to show gratitude for the late rapper’s contributions to hip-hop culture. Leaving a catalog full of innovative sounds and rhymes for lifelong fans to enjoy and new fans to discover, DOOM’s legacy will be revered for generations to come. A legacy that will be forever spelled in ALL CAPS.


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