Photo by Jim Dyson/Redferns via Getty Images

It’s been almost three years since Daniel Dumile, aka MF DOOM (and Zev Love X, Viktor Vaughn, King Gedoorah and Metal Fingers), passed way too young on October 31st. He left behind a family as well as a musical legacy that not only hasn’t diminished since his passing, but keeps on growing: Tributes by The Weeknd and Westside Gunn, never-ending hymns of praise by fans worldwide, and an upcoming Supreme x MF DOOM collab are just the most recent examples for the love shown universally.

To celebrate rap’s most-beloved super villain, we talked about DOOM’s art, his alter-egos, obscure punchlines and the infamous mask with Taran Frisch, a Munich-based DJ, hip-hop head, podcaster and one half of vintage tee chronologists The Ishincroyable:

Can you remember the first time you came across MF DOOM?

Yes, it must have been around the year 2000. I first heard his voice on the Greedy Fingers “Shady Sirens” CD from my older brother. The track is called “I sell rhymes like dimes”.

It seems that everyone found something different to relate to in DOOM’s music: What did draw you into his world back then?

I guess it was his unique voice, his flow and his choice of words. I did not understand half the things he was rapping about in the beginning because his vocabulary and storytelling was so different from other rappers I knew back then. But unlike many other ‘underground’ artists back then he had the voice and cadence that wanted you to understand everything he was rapping about.

Do you think it was beneficial for his mystique that he started out in a time when it was harder to get information about artists?

No, I don’t think so. If you were not living in the US, information about almost every rapper who was not ‘mainstream’ or got promoted by a major label was kind of scarce. Hip Hop magazines and record covers were the only source of information for me back then but that did not add to a certain kind of mystique.

How important were the mask and his alter-egos for the popularity of MF DOOM?

Ironically, he chose to wear the mask – first he was wearing women stocking’s over his head to hide his face – so his audience would concentrate on his content rather than his face or identity. Yet the mask became his ‘logo’ over the years and the first thing people would identify him with. I think masks often add to popularity of artists because they are supposed to “hide” something. It makes people curious. In MF DOOM’s case I think the mask was an important part of his popularity but he also had the skills to back it up. Unlike other ‘rappers’ wearing masks nowadays.

What do you think: How did his own producing impact the music?

I think it benefitted MF DOOM a lot because it gave him credit as producer and a rapper as well among other artists. Madlib, one of the most creative producers in hip-hop, is a fan of MF DOOM’s production and his raps. Ghostface Killah, one of the best rappers of all time, is a fan of MF DOOM’s production and raps.

This is just an example of how highly regarded both aspects of his art are amongst other Hip Hop creatives and I think that attracted them to work and collaborate with DOOM. His own production has also been crucial for MF DOOM himself to create his alter egos and embed them into different soundscapes to really dive into the characters he created.

MF DOOM rapped about food, TV series and basically everything pop culture without losing a certain roughness: Did he make it accepable for rappers to be an oddball?

I think he was a pioneer in doing so. If you look at the whole Odd Future movement, I think they were heavily inspired by him. There is a video on the internet where Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt meet MF DOOM for the first time in real life. Their reaction speaks for itself. He certainly was inspiring rappers back then and even now to be themselves and to rap about things they are interested in.

From the top of your head, what are some of the lines (or topics) of DOOM where you caught yourself like “Wait, did he really just say that”?

“Told ya on some get rich shit/ As he gets older, he gets colder than a witch tit” (“Figaro” by Madvillain)

Can you still hear his influence in other artists‘ music? And if so, how?

I think so, yes. Maybe not in a way that is super obvious but I think a lot of rappers and producers are fans of MF DOOM, so his music is part of their music too. There is a video on Youtube where legendary MC Mos Def, aka Yasiin Bey, is rapping a MF DOOM song in the studio and is laughing in disbelief over the crazy wordplay of DOOM. After DOOM passed Mos Def also put out some tribute songs where he ‘covers’ his favourite MF DOOM tracks. So you can definitely tell that there is an influence.

Westside Gunn has an iced out cuban chain with the MF DOOM mask on it, so he has to have been an inspiration for him in a kind of way. Even Offset from the Migos is rocking MF DOOM’s Nike SB Dunks on the cover of their album “Straightenin”. So I can’t pinpoint ‘how’ you can hear his influence in other artist’s music nowadays, but he may be your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper.

@awaizdawave @Westside Gunn #westsidegun #westsidegunntok #griselda #conwaythemachine #bennythebutcher #westsidegunnday #newyork #xyzbca #viral #fyp #trending #tiktok #explorepage ♬ original sound – AwaizDaWave

Last, but not least: What are three projects you would recommend to someone who wants to dive into the vast catalogue of MF DOOM?

MF DOOM – “Operation Doomsday” from 1999

This album introduced me to the world of MF DOOM. It has some of his most obscure punchlines and features some of his best production in my opinion.

Madvillain – “Madvillainy” from 2004

This collab album with Madlib is considered one of the best independent hip-hop albums of all time. Madlib and MF DOOM locked themselves away in Madlib’s production studio in California and created this monster. Heavily inspired by weed, shrooms and beer, DOOM and Madlib take you on a journey through their minds.

Viktor Vaughn – “Vaudeville Villain” from 2003

This concept album was released under one of MF DOOM’s alter egos, Viktor Vaughn. It’s about a time-travelling MC getting stuck in New York City in the early 90s. I don’t want to give the story away if you do not know the project, but it shows the versatility and genius of MF DOOM’s song writing.

Taran Frisch (Photo Credit: Stefan Grau)

Aside from being a MF DOOM nerd in the best sense of the word, Taran owns an outstanding vintage t-shirt collection of all things MF DOOM, Stones Throw and everything close to it, which has DOOM heads around the world in awe (and of which you can get a glimpse here).

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