November 13th, 2005

Behind the Mask of a Villain: Part III
In our final installation, MF Doom explains why he doesn't need no hooks.
by Douglas Passion

And here it is, the third (and final) installment of our epic interview with MF Doom. If you've been doing the Bill Frist and playing yourself for the last month and a half, check Part I and Part II now. In this edition, Doom discusses why he, like Shaq-Fu, doesn't need no hooks.

Iíve heard the live CD from San Francisco, Live from Planet X, and what I found most remarkable was the amount of words you were rattling off without fuckups. It was a lot of wordsÖjust words.

Thereís little tricks to the shit, like, aight, hereís one of the tricks. After a while I blackout, Iíll tell you right now. I blackout going off memory. If you start it right, itís going to end right. If, when you write the song, you put your heart and soul into it, and you make sure itís like when the comedians do it Ė they premeditate when the laughter is going to come, they put these jokes in a certain order to guide the crowd. Thatís how emcees used to do it. Now they donít do it like that. They rhyme with the beat or the fire in front of the stage and all that bullshit. Iím bringing it right back to where it was at: itís how you say what you say and how you control the crowd and mic control.

Do you think thatís why that memorization technique or that creative process Ė

Oh, yeah. After youíve wrote so much, I got like four or five album that I could just spit. Any one of the songs, any one of those verses thatís structured like that -- as verses with no extra bullshit, no choruses or nothing Ė straight through. After a while, I got like fucking thirty songs in a row I can just spit over any beat. I use the same formula, quality formula, no extra fillers. Then you got twenty quality shits that you can just spit at the drop of a dime and itís going to seem real ill all at one time like, ďHow the fuck he did that?Ē Thereís a lot of practice, but since itís shit that wrote, I kind of know it like that. Plus with the rhythm of the beat and how it flows, itís not that hard to memorize something to me. Once the beat goes again, the last word you said connects to the first one in the first bar. When you write it, you have some sort of reference to remember it. after that, pfft, itís a smash, yo. I can flow for two hours on stage, fuck around.

Your verses seem to have that structure Ė youíll take a conversational phrase just as an excuse to rhyme off that shit.

Yeah, no doubt. Thatís the fun part about it. Whatís a common phrase that people know off the bat, put something with it that they wouldnít think of that still makes sense with it.

Is that one of the reasons you view hooks as filler?

Well, it depends on the hook. When you say hook, youíre using the hook to hook people in. It has nothing to do with the real shit thatís gonna make them come to you. Youíre hooking them. So youíre putting something in extra to gas them up. Itís part of the game, some people like it. But my music is for people who chose to think for themselves and Iím adding a piece of my conversation to it. Iím not trying to hook you, like Iím trying to put my foot in your front door to sell you a fucked up vacuum cleaner or nothing. Iím just adding on to the convo. Iíll build it and come back with something. When you got something thatís a hook, motherfuckers are trying to hook you. Thatís exactly what it is.

At the same time, you have to admit that songs like ďC.R.E.A.M.Ē or ďShook OnesĒ, they have great hooks.

Oh, yeah. A hook can be good, but itís still a hook nonetheless. Ainít nothing wrong if you do it right, but if you do it wrong Ė disaster. Sometimes I donít even do íem. I donít do good hooks like that. Iím a nigga [that] be rhyming. Iím a rhyming nigga. I look at it like I donít really need a hook if I spit the whole shit. You want to hook people, cool, hook Ďem. Motherfuckers who holla at me, they can come see me.

I guess when dudes get in a cipher, they arenít really spitting hooks.

Yeah, regular rhymes. Even in the party when you passed the mic after you spit, nobody was going to do no choruses.

At lot of early call-and-response stuff is technically hooks though.

No doubt, definitely it is. Thatís what hooks started from, actually. Thatís a part of rocking shit. Thatís definitely a part of the rocking the party thing. I donít do that shit Ďcause thatís what Iím trying to get away from. I feel that when I rock, whatever I do good, thatís what I do. I ainít gonna be trying to do no hooks and shit. Fuck around and flop.

From a writing perspective, the way verses are stuctured has always been some I've found interesting. I appreciate when you can tell someone labored on it.

Yeah, no doubt. You can definitely tell the difference. And once you put this article together, I'm sure it's going to be structured in a way that comes from thought. You'll transcribe what i just said right now, so i gotta repect what you do the same way. Big up.