Monday, 23 March 2009

DOOM - Born Like This (Lex 2009)

With more monikers than a career conman, Daniel Dumile has certainly lived through hip-hop’s greatest feats, from his Zev Love X incarnation that helped make the Golden Age so shiny, KMD gave us optimistic funky and dextrous music that moved us. Their ‘Bl_ck B_st_rds’ album gave us some political rhetoric that was undeniably powerful. After an exodus and family tragedy, he returned as MF Doom and kept his face hidden with a Dr Doom-esque mask, ensuring the focus stayed on the music and the character the sad man bloated with regret and aggression could hide behind. He was Viktor Vaughn, Madvillain, King Geedorah, and now he’s just DOOM (‘all capitals, no acronym’) and he was BORN LIKE THIS. This is DOOM’s first album since 2004’s Mm.. Food. He went through a prolific period, collaborating at the drop of a hat, filling our ears with that familiar staccato raspy flow and there was danger of overexposure/lack of quality control. But he held back. Worked away on his new album, taking in new beats from himself, JakeOne and even posthumously Dilla, and now what we’ve been waiting for has arrived. Sadly, it wasn’t his long promised album with powerhouse Ghostface (also a man hiding behind a mask, monikers and many mirthy metaphors), it’s a solo album. And it’s fucking good.

The thing with DOOM is he has mastered his craft and on form, delivers the best edgy, B-movie-sampling, funked-out, headnodding hip-hop going. When he’s lazy you can hear it, but when he puts his time and passion into it, you can tell he was BORN LIKE THIS. This album is precious, special and never boring. ‘Gazzillion Ear’ erupts like a Madvillain beat with reverberating police sirens and that familiar flow, still spitting lackadaisical insults, villainous rhetoric and metaphors, comparisons and cultural references only DOOM gets, but the way he does it, so calm and gravelly, and with a hint of awkwardness, he sounds electric. The sirens signal a strong start. Then ‘Ballskin’ comes in with its off-kilter synth-scale and evil trade-offs, a stream of consciousness rhymes and internal couplets abstract and yet electric. ‘Yessir’ features a guest verse from vibrant bouncy and yet menacing Raekwon, who cooks up one his finest while a guitar-siren pulses in the background. The downtempo bass and scattering drums all make this a highlight, along with the near-police-procedural drama in ‘Angelz’ an old track featuring Ghostface that finally gets the release it deserves for its James Bond strings and knockout rhymes trading blows with the beats.

The only misfire is a strange unnecessary cuss against fake gangsters which exercises that age-old hip-hop dinosauric conceit of being homophobic, it’s unnecessary and betrays the intelligence DOOM usually places in his rhymes. However, this aside, the rest of the album is fire, firing, moving, grooving and completely utterly brilliant all the way through, able to be funky and threatening all at once, while a vibrant rejuventated DOOM has fun on the mic, throwing out streams of abstract consciousness rhyming intensely, like a dictionary definition of a superior rapper, all personality, attitude and ability, DOOM certainly was BORN LIKE THIS.


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