Grieving for a much-loved artist is an odd feeling. You didn’t know them, and they didn’t know you, and yet it can be as visceral an experience as losing a loved one. It’s usually because that artist or celebrity gave you, in their art, verse after verse of their thoughts, feelings and emotions, to the extent that you almost feel like you know them.
The same can’t be said for the enigmatic MF DOOM, but the grief is every bit as real. Far from revealing intimate details about his life, his tracks are a web of fantasy. DOOM built a whole universe with his rhymes, and placed himself at the centre as a supervillain. Listening to his extensive catalogue feels like standing at the open door of a foreboding castle; each door, staircase and hallway revealing a different mystery.
We rarely even saw his face. DOOM’s iconic mask concealed his identity for the majority of his career. Tales abound of the masked villain disappearing for months, even years, only to resurface from some smoked out studio laden with new music, often under a whole new pseudonym. He’d always deliver, with a flagrant disregard for deadlines, a product that would consistently be unparalleled. Not only was he able to deliver densely packed, complex bars with the butteriest flow, but his eclectic beats are the stuff of Hip Hop legend, as volumes one through nine of his ‘Special Herbs’ series will attest.
You wouldn’t expect a complete enigma to be quite as collaborative as DOOM was either. Over the years he’s worked with fellow veterans De La Soul, J Dilla, and Inspectah Deck, as well as relative newcomers like BadBadNotGood, Rejjie Snow and Bishop Nehru, and has delivered some of his best ever work alongside Madlib on what is widely credited as his Magnum Opus, ‘Madvillainy.’
So despite never really knowing the real MF DOOM, we mourn the loss not only of a fellow human being taken too soon at the age of 49, but the final chapter in the DOOM universe. True to form, DOOM’s cause of death hasn’t been revealed publicly – it’s as if he’s disappeared into the ether, as only he knew how. Our thoughts are with his family.