April 6th, 2009

DOOM, Method To The Madness

Aside from wearing a metal mask on his face, DOOM is your typical everyday artist. Yea right. Having accumulated a cult following for his off-brand style of unorthodox wordplay, MF DOOM has reveled in his obscurity. Recently dropping the MF from his moniker, the New York-bred mic slayer recently released his latest LP, Born Like This, on indie imprint Lex Records. Being one of the most misunderstood phenomenas in hip-hop today, XXLMag.com got deep into the mind of the man himself to chop it up on why heís actually not DOOM, hiring people to perform at his shows, a collab album with Ghostface Killah andÖchildrenís books. Read at your own risk.

XXLMag.com: For those who may not be familiar with you, itís safe to say youíre a pretty left field kind of artistÖ

DOOM: Um, yea, compared to everything else thatís out there right now. I guess itís safe to say that. However people see it, thatís up to them, from their perspective. Itís hard for me to see it though, cause I just do it.

XXL: I know you got the new album, Born Like This, that just dropped. Is this album at all different from your previous work that your fans know you for?

DOOM: Iíd have to say yea. Itís different in the respect that the previous DOOM records were more like an introduction to the character. So you know, a lot of it was in third person in the rhymes. Some of it was in first person point of view. But this particular record is almost totally in the third person and itís more like youíre in the mind of the character. Itís like youíve been introduced so now you know him. This record is more personal. Like a one on one, if you right there with a nigga on some chilling type shit. Almost like a person can put themselves in the Villainís shoes.

XXL: Thatís very unique. Youíve cultivated a character in your music over the years, the same way people cultivate brands. How have you been able to familiarize people with the DOOM character outside of just the music?

DOOM: Well, I think a lot of people catch on to it by word of mouth. People who are fans already and they already get the character and kinda see the angle, theyíll bring it to a friend. It seems like thatís how it really spreads. Itís the opposite of the traditional hip-hop shit where you might hear the guyís name first and then you hear him. Itís a whole different approach, bringing it back to how it started. It used to be like you hear something and be like Ďoh snap, who is that?í Then you find out more about it. Iíd prefer they find out about it that way. But either way is good because it all leads back to the music anyway. But itís just the craftsmanship of the music. When something is well crafted, you donít even have to really advertise because the shit is butter anyway, nah mean?

XXL: You get very intricate with your lyrics and use a very broad canvas with your words. Whatís your writing process like now and where do you draw inspiration?

DOOM: I just, if I get an idea, Iíll write it, Ďcause I ainít gonna remember that shit the next day. I just keep a notebook. I write like I was a short story writer. Like even if the lyrics werenít on a CD, like if they were in a novel, a sci-fi novel or something like that. I think it would read just as well as itís heard. Thereís a certain appeal to just grabbing the mic and talking shit. But after a while, that starts to get like, Ďok, the same shit over and over again.í You canít just always just talk about yourself and how much shit you do and how much money you get. Thereís so much more to life than that.

XXL: Did you do any production on this album?

DOOM: Yea, I produced about 75% of it.

XXL: Speaking of production, I know you produced joints on Ghostfaceís last two albums. I heard you all are doing an album together called Swift and ChangeableÖ

DOOM: Yea, that album is like 45% done. It came about when I got the deal to do this record and he was doing Fishscale at the time. It was just like, letís get these projects out the way first. But later on this year, niggasíll hear the Doom/Ghost shit. Itís raw as hell by the way. Itís about to be bonkers. You canít even imagine.

XXL: Letís clear something else up. I heard a rumor that youíve had people show up to shows as you with the mask on and everything, that obviously werenít you. Is there truth to that?

DOOM: Show up as the character? Iím not the character. Youíre talking to the writer right now. In that respect, think about it like this. If you write a screenplay, or a stage joint, some type of theater presentation, like Tyler Perryís a perfect example. He writes the joints, but then he plays the character of Madea, the old lady and shit. If he decided to outsource that, and get another actor to play Madea, itís still Madea, you know what I mean? Iím trying to snap niggas out of that getting too caught up in the person as opposed to the music. Itís sound. Go with what you hear, not what you see. So if somebody comes to the show expecting to see me, the writer, you might not. But you will hear the work. So if I feel the need to hire somebody to do the character, I will. I might hire Denzel [Washington] to do it and really get it rockiní. He costs a lot though probably [laughs].

XXL: Speaking of collaborations, Thom Yorke from Radiohead did a remix of your song ďGazzillion Ear.Ē Seems like an odd pairing. How did yíall hook up?

DOOM: Oh yea, Thomís my man. It came out ill. He actually approached us. He heard a rough version of the song when I was still working on it and reached out to the label. He wanted to do it on the strength. I wasnít too familiar with his work but then I did my research on him and saw heís a pretty prolific dude. I saw how both of our styles could compliment each other and bring more people together with it because his fans are hardcore, if not more hardcore than my fans. It was a good way to bridge the two.

XXL: Can you break down the science behind your other characters besides DOOM? And are youíre working on other projects as the writer?

DOOM: Yea, of course I got the character King Geedorah, a three-headed dragon and shit. Heís working on his second shit now. Thatís a whole other separate thing from DOOM. Then I got Vik[tor Vaughn]. Heís like a younger version of DOOM, but heís still his own character. He got a little more slick mouth with him. Little young nigga think he know it all and shit. Heís nice in his own respect. Then with the evolution of the character DOOM, itís definitely gonna change up. This one I came straight lyrical, but the next record may be a whole set of ballads. Have the Villain hitting the notes, on some Freddy Jackson shit [laughs]. Iím also working on a series of childrenís books. Thatís still in the works. And also a book on the Unified Field Theory, which is just a theory of everything and how it pertains to us as a people. It expands on Einsteinís theory of relativity. So Iím breaking it down in laymanís terms of how it pertains to us. Itís more of a serious book based on facts and research. Ė Anthony Roberts