Daniel Dumile (born January 9, 1971) is an American hip hop artist who has taken on several stage names in his career - originally Zev Love X, most famously MF DOOM, and in side projects such as King Geedorah, Metal Fingers, Viktor Vaughn, and collaboration projects such as DANGERDOOM and Madvillain. He remains one of the most popular and critically acclaimed independent hip hop artists today.
Early years with KMD
Dumile was born in Southeast London, England, then moved with his family to New York and was raised in Long Island.
As Zev Love X, he formed the group KMD with his younger brother Subroc and another MC called Onyx The Birthstone Kid. A&R Dante Ross learned of KMD from the rap group 3rd Bass, and signed them to Elektra Records.
Dumile and KMD's debut on record came on 3rd Bass's song "The Gas Face" from The Cactus Album, followed in 1991 with KMD's album Mr. Hood, which became a minor hit through its singles "Peachfuzz", "Who Me?" and heavy video play on cable TV's Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City.
Subroc was struck and killed by a car in 1993 while attempting to cross a Long Island expressway before the release of a second KMD album entitled Black Bastards. The group was subsequently dropped from Elektra Records before the release of the album due to controversy over the album's cover art which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or sambo character being hanged from the gallows.
With the loss of his brother, Dumile retreated from the hip-hop scene from 1994-1997. He testifies to disillusionment and depression, living "damn near homeless, walking the streets of Manhattan, sleeping on benches". In the late 1990s, he left New York City and settled in Atlanta. According to interviews with DOOM, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him. "Black Bastards" had become bootlegged at the time, leading to DOOM's rise in the underground hip-hop world.
Birth of MF DOOM
Dumile began to rap at open mic events at the Nuyorican Poets Café in 1998 where he withheld his face by putting a stocking over his head. His new identity was influenced by Marvel Comics supervillian Dr. Doom. He wears the mask while performing and isn't photographed without it, except for very short glimpses in videos such as Viktor Vaughn's "Mr. Clean".
The release of Operation: Doomsday in 1999 by independent label Fondle 'Em marked the official turning point for Dumile in his reinvention of himself from a major label recording artist of minor status to independent artist, where he would find his greatest success.
The following year, he began releasing albums of instrumental work, a series known as Special Herbs.
DOOM's first commercial breakthrough came in 2004, with the album Madvillainy together with producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. Released by Stones Throw Records, the album was a critical and commercial success. MF DOOM was seen by mainstream audiences for the first time as Madvillain received publicity and acclaim in publications such as Rolling Stone, New York Times, The New Yorker, and Spin. A video for "All Caps" and a 4-date U.S. tour followed the release of Madvillainy. An additional video for "Rhinestone Cowboy" and a segment from the tour are shown on the DVD Stones Throw 101.
In the same year, MF DOOM's second solo album MM..FOOD was released by the Minnesota-based label Rhymesayers Entertainment, using various food items to metaphorically explain life and himself. As Viktor Vaughn he has released two albums Vaudeville Villain & Venomous Villain (also called VV2),
Though still an independent artist, MF DOOM took a bigger step towards the mainstream in 2005 with The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with producer DJ Danger Mouse under the group name DangerDoom. The album, released on October 11, 2005 by Epitaph, was done in cooperation with Cartoon Network's adult swim and frequently references characters from adult swim programs. DOOM also made an appearance in "November Has Come," a track on Gorillaz's 2005 album "Demon Days." In 2006 MF hosted the Adult Swim Christmas special and he could be seen in between shows and other such things.
MF DOOM's lyrics are sometimes perceived as eccentric. With an abundant use of polysyllabic rhymes and bizarre metaphors, MF DOOM combines complex syntax with phrasing to create a rhyme flow that is both exhausting and entertaining. His songs commonly lack the typical verse/chorus structure in favor of showcasing extended rhyme schemes and strophic or repeating beats and melodies.
Samples from old cartoons (particularly Fantastic Four cartoons in which characters often refer to their arch-enemy, Dr. Doom) frequently find their way into MF DOOM's productions. Even before his work on the Adult Swim-influenced DANGERDOOM project, his raps alluded to popular movies and TV shows, often Star Trek and the Godzilla films.
Unlike many rappers' first-person point of reference, MF DOOM refers to himself in the third person to better convey his own semi-fictional persona. DOOM himself is a caricature, a masked incarnation of the "supervillain" that his lyrics describe, which combines with personal traits and experiences to create an endlessly fascinating topic for his own songs.
Little is known about Dumile's personal life, although he did reveal details in a 2006 interview that was published on his MySpace page. He stated that he is married, his wife named Jasmine, with two children, one of them teenage.
He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
Similar to his name, MF DOOM's mask is based on the Fantastic Four character Dr. Doom. However, it is not to be confused with Kool Keith's alias Dr. Dooom. Originally, MF DOOM sported a mask that was very similar to Dr. Doom's, however his current mask, designed by Lord Scotch, a New York graffiti artist, is styled to resemble the mask worn by Russell Crowe in the film Gladiator.
Said to hide the metaphorical scars remaining from the death of MF DOOM's brother Subroc in 1993, MF DOOM has also given a number of alternative meanings for the mask, including the preservation of creative anonymity in the increasingly image-driven genre of hip-hop.