No Country for Old (Rap) Men: Forget Jay-Z – MF Doom Is Rap’s Greatest Hustler

Robbie of Unkut muses on whether the Metal Faced Villian might just be the biggest hustler in the game

Posted By Robbie Ettelson |

When Zev Love X returned to the music game in 1997 – four years after the tragic loss of his brother Subroc and getting dropped from the Elektra Records roster in the space of a week – it marked the most significant creative rebirth in hip-hop’s short history. Adopting a new identity shrouded in mystery and performing with a stocking over his face, his music soon seeped into the consciousness of rap die-hards through his limited edition twelve-inch releases via Bobbito’s coveted Fondle ‘Em Records label. When Operation: Doomsday dropped in 1999, it officially marked the beginning of a whole new style of hardcore rap courtesy of the Metal Faced Villain.

As the popularity of the album grew in the underground scene, the limited initial pressings of CD’s and vinyl soon dried-up, which led to the first in a series of re-issues for this now-classic long-player via his Metal Face label. Understandable of course – as DOOM’s fanbase increased, so did the demand for his work. The release of the shelved Black Bastards LP followed, as did new projects and alias’ such as King Gheedorah and Viktor Vaughn, and collaborative efforts such as Madvillain and DANGERDOOM. High Times Records even released a series of instrumental albums from Dumile called Special Herbs, which eventually ran to ten volumes. This all resulted in some great music for those who appreciated his unorthodox rhyme style and signature production technique.

At some point (possibly the time that the ‘cool’ crowd latched onto Madvillain and first pressings of Doomsday were selling for hundreds on ebay), it’s almost as if DOOM realised that the majority of music fans are mindless sheep who will eagerly gobble-up any old crap you feed them and ask for more. Admittedly there were some legal issues with Marvel, who didn’t appreciate the use of the Dr. Doom character on the record covers, which resulted in having to re-release some of the earlier stuff with new artwork. Even so, the Special Herbs series was issued on LP twice, followed by a mixed CD release and finally a boxed vinyl set. If you were a die-hard completist, you could have purchased four versions of Volume 1 on LP and three times on CD! Fux with Operation: Doomsday? Here are your options – the Fondle ‘Em original, the Sub Verse re-issue, the Metal Face 2008 re-issue, the lunch box 2CD collectors edition, the 4LP tin edition and the ‘Silver Age’ grey vinyl. All in all, you could be the proud owner of nine separate versions of this album – if you were a certified mentalist, that is.

Collectable editions are one thing, but ol’ Metal Face has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Not counting his ‘Doompostas’ who have been known to perform live shows in his absence, MF has also been slinging the same beats for the last ten years! Tracks from the Monsta Island Czars album appeared on the Special Herbs series, then MF Grimm used them for Special Herbs and Spices, before Ghostface grabbed a few for Fishscale. Not sick of them yet? Then you’ll be pleased to hear that Masta Ace dropped the MA Doom LP this year using nothing but old DOOM beats! The question is – are the fans to blame for continuing to buy the same repackaged material again and again? Or is this simply a case of ‘Doomsploitation’, if you’ll excuse the awful play on words?

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.

 

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