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DOOM “Born Like This” Review

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He’s not one of the biggest rappers of all time, but DOOM (formerly MF Doom) is among rap’s most consistent players. And with Born Like This the emcee continues his proven formula of cartoon-villain-meets-hip hop beats. The greatest artists are shrouded in mystery, always keeping audiences guessing; Born Like This extends that trend as DOOM emulates the enigmatic super-villain Doctor Doom over killer samples, waging war against the state of contemporary rap.

His character(s) aside, the man behind the mask is fairly normal, despite harboring a past tainted enough with tragedy to scar a man for life. It’s hard to stay positive with so much darkness lurking, and DOOM makes no qualms about it. As a result the tone of Born Like This is grimmer than usual. The album isn’t as drenched in old school as his past releases, with the exception of “Still Dope” and “That’s That,” which concludes with DOOM singing, “Can it be that I stayed away too long, did you miss these rhymes when I was gone?”

In the case of “Supervillainz,” DOOM’s misery loves company, the emcee forming a villainous trilogy with De La Soul’s Posdnuos as P-Pain (take a guess who he’s taunting with this character) and Prince Paul as Filthy Pablo. Throwing down both unlikely and familiar samples into his raps, DOOM collaborates with other emcees and producers from hip hop’s misfit island including Rhymesayers’ Jake One (producing four tracks including “Microwave Mayo” that rocks a backbeat akin to Castlevania), Atmosphere’s Slug (contributing the final verse of “Supervillainz”), Raekwon and Madlib (adding production on “Absolutely”). J Dilla continues his posthumous reign adding production to “Gazillion Ear” and “Lightworks,” as heard from his solo album Donuts. “Gazillion Ear” switches its up the beat midway, like traveling into different Mario worlds, following a warp pipe as it leads underwater, returning back to the previous world before track’s end.

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(photo via MySpace)

The most unlikely, yet satisfying, sampling comes with a recording of Charles Bukowski reading from “Dinosauria We” on “Cellz,” the track a haunting glimpse into contemporary life that sounds a lot like a 1940′s radio broadcast about alien invasions (“radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men, the rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind”), combining facts with fiction to achieve the surreal. Ghostface Killah guests as Tony Sparks on “Angelz” which is hopefully a prelude to their forthcoming collaboration.

As the album winds down, Bumpy Knuckles (aka Freddie Foxxx) alludes to DOOM as being one of the greatest emcees in the game on “Bumpy’s Message.” And rightly so, as throughout the album DOOM reaffirms that while he’s not the most recognized name in hip hop, he is the king of the underground, breaking convention while retaining good form, favoring freestyle over chorus, and all the while living by his own rules.

[Review by guest contributor Crystal Erickson.]

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Also: DOOM @ Pitchfork Music Festival 2009


1 Comment

    I had no clue that was Bukowski. O__o Fantastic!

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