“I am anything I pretend to be” could be the counter-cultural battle cry straddling the two theaters of rock and rap. Forget about mashing the two together to create some ugly Limp Bizkit-type of abomination — even Carson Daily would probably admit that’s just a double-headed marketing net. What lies at the heart of rock and rap seems to be the same dream, and that dream is to be as big as one wants to be.
From rock’s Little Richard, Ziggy Stardust and Marilyn Manson to rap’s King Geedorah, Viktor Vaughn and Zev Love X (all of whom are one man now known as MF Doom); the ability to recreate oneself through an alias is an artistic license closely paralleling the American dream.
Doom’s dream, however, is about as jaded as the rest of America’s great, silent majority. After finding success on Elektra with his brother DJ Subroc in the early ’90s, Subroc later died when injured by a car. Doom’s next album, Bl_ck B_st_rds, was too controversial for the label, which dropped him due to graphic content.
Garnering inspiration from Marvel Comics’ super villain Dr. Doom, the rapper, whose first name was Daniel Dumile, donned an iron mask and swore revenge against an industry that rejected him.
MM..Food? is filled with the ironic kitsch of cartoon soundtracks and the like. As with rock, the most important thing is the music itself, not the lyrics. However, the refreshing aspect about Doom’s lyrics, besides their straight-up humor, is a lack of mainstream rap’s constant self-aggrandizement.
Doom slams his contemporaries in the opener “Beef Rapp” with lyrics such as, “Are you rhymers or stripping males? / Out-of-work jerks since they shut down Chippendales,” referring to the almost standardized buff physique of popular rappers.
What’s odd about this album is its name and the subsequent, thorough theme of food. It’s not rap’s first fascination with food (Anyone remember the Fat Boys?), but it certainly begs the question: What’s dramatic about food? Every song is titled after its relation to food.
After listening through the album a few times, one may ask: What’s dramatic about any of the stuff Doom raps about, which also includes girls, marijuana and the sillier aspects of hip-hop? In fact, the context of how Dumile became MF Doom is dramatic, especially his absurd conviction to take over the world of rap. The music on “One Beer,” for example, featuring the help of Madlib, loops a lo-fi orchestra of brass and woodwinds to a ridiculous crescendo and decrescendo. The effect is quite sad.
If that’s not dramatic enough, then also consider the fact that Doom was homeless for a spell.
MM..Food? is simply good stuff, and it puts a cast-iron face on what is essentially “indie” music, a term usually reserved for guitars and shaggy haircuts.