Daniel Dumile (pronounced /ˈduːmɨleɪ/ DOO-mə-lay; born 9 January 1971) is a British-born American underground hip hop artist best known for his "super villain" stage persona and unique lyrics. Daniel Dumile has taken on several stage names in his career, most notably as MF DOOM. He has appeared in several collaborative projects such as Danger Doom (with Danger Mouse), JJ DOOM (with Jneiro Jarel) and Madvillain (with Madlib).
Dumile was born in 1971, in London, England, the son of a Trinidadian mother and a Zimbabwean father. He moved with his family to New York and was raised on Long Island, New York.
1988-1993: Career beginnings:
As Zev Love X, he formed the group KMD, in 1988 with his younger brother DJ Subroc and another MC called Rodan. When Rodan left the group, Zev found another MC to replace Rodan named Onyx the Birthstone Kid.A&R rep Dante Ross learned of KMD through the hip hop group 3rd Bass, and signed the group to Elektra Records. Dumile and KMD's recording debut came on 3rd Bass's song "The Gas Face" from The Cactus Album, followed in 1991 with KMD's album Mr. Hood, which became a minor hit through its singles "Peachfuzz", "Who Me?" and heavy video play on cable TV's Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City.
Subroc was struck and killed by a car in 1993 while attempting to cross the Nassau Expressway before the release of their second KMD album, Black Bastards. The group was subsequently dropped from Elektra Records that same week. Before the release, the album was shelved due to its controversial cover art, which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or sambo character being hung from the gallows. After the death of his brother, Dumile retreated from the hip hop scene from 1994 to 1997, living "damn near homeless, walking the streets of Manhattan, sleeping on benches. " In the late 1990s, he left New York City and settled in Atlanta. According to interviews with Dumile, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him".Black Bastards had become bootlegged at the time, leading to DOOM's rise in the underground hip hop scene.
1997-2001: Operation Doomsday:
In 1997, Dumile began freestyling incognito at open-mic events at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan, obscuring his face by putting a stocking over his head. He meanwhile had taken on a new identity, MF DOOM, patterned after and wearing a mask similar to that of Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom, who is depicted rapping on the cover of the 1999 album Operation: Doomsday. The mask is based on a prop mask obtained from the film Gladiator. He wore this mask while performing and isn't photographed without it, except for very short glimpses in videos such as Viktor Vaughn's "Mr. Clean", "?", and in earlier photos with KMD.
Dumile released three singles on "Bobbito" García's Fondle 'Em Records, "Dead Bent", and "Greenbacks" (1997), and "The M.I.C." (1998). In 1999 Fondle 'Em released MF DOOM's first full-length LP, Operation: Doomsday, which included these singles and their b-sides, and additional tracks. Dumile had used the spelling variant "M.F. DOOM" for the singles releases, but thereafter changed this to MF DOOM. Among the collaborators on these tracks were fellow members of the Monsta Island Czars collective (The M.I.C.), for which each artist took on the persona of a monster from the Godzilla mythos. Dumile went by the alias King Geedorah, a three-headed golden dragon space monster, modeled after King Ghidorah, the Toho movie monster who was a three-headed dragon that often battled Godzilla. Some of his appearances on the LP are as, and are credited to, this persona instead of that of MF DOOM. Dumile would revisit this character later under various name-spellings.
In 2001, he began working with Prince Paul, co-producing MC Paul Barman's "Paullelujah!" with MikeTheMusicGuy and Phofo. In 2002, he appeared on the Sound-Ink's Colapsus collection,on a very hard to find track titled "Monday Nite at Fluid", featuring Kurious with production by King Honey, who also produced some tracks for Dumile's album Vaudeville Villain.
Dumile has produced all the instrumentation tracks for his solo releases, with very few exceptions. Beginning in 2001, under the "Metal Fingers" moniker, Dumile began releasing his Special Herbs instrumentals series. Many of these beats can be heard as the instrumentation tracks throughout his body of work. A separate website catalogs for which tracks each instrumental has been used.
2002-2004: Madvillain, King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn:
In 2003, Dumile released the King Geedorah album Take Me to Your Leader. Geedorah is credited as producer, but only appears as an MC on four tracks. The majority of vocal tracks feature guest MCs, and the album features several instrumental montages of sampled vocals from old movies and TV shows--a technique employed on most of Dumile's albums. Later in 2003, Dumile released the LP Vaudeville Villain under the moniker Viktor Vaughn (another play on Doctor Doom, whose "real name" is Victor von Doom). In 2004 he released a follow-up LP under the Viktor Vaughn moniker, Venomous Villain. Later in 2004, the second MF DOOM album MM.. Food was released by Minnesota-based label Rhymesayers Entertainment.
DOOM's first commercial breakthrough came in 2004, with the album Madvillainy, created with producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. Released by Stones Throw Records, the album was a critical and commercial success. MF DOOM was seen by mainstream audiences for the first time as Madvillain received publicity and acclaim in publications such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Spin. A video for "All Caps" and a four-date U.S. tour followed the release of Madvillainy. Additional videos for "Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Accordion", both directed by Andrew Gura, were released on the DVDs Stones Throw 101 and Stones Throw 102: In Living the True Gods, respectively.
2005-2009: The Mouse and the Mask and Born Like This:
Although still an independent artist, MF DOOM took a bigger step towards the mainstream in 2005 with The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with producer DJ Danger Mouse under the group name Danger Doom. The album, released on 11 October 2005 by Epitaph and Lex, was done in collaboration with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and featured voice-actors and characters from its programs (mostly Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Danger Doom reached #41 on the Billboard 200. Also in 2005, DOOM made an appearance on "November Has Come", a track on Gorillaz's 2005 album Demon Days, which reached #6 on the Billboard 200.
DOOM produced tracks for both of Ghostface Killah's 2006 albums Fishscale and More Fish, it was also announced that the two were working on a collaboration album - then titled Swift & Changeable. Three tracks have been released since the album was announced, "Angels", which appeared on a Nature Sounds compilation in late 2006 (another version appears on DOOM's 2009 album Born Like This), "Victory Laps" and "Victory Laps". The Madvillain song, "Monkey Suite", first appeared on the Adult Swim/Stones Throw Records compilation Chrome Children, later it appeared on Madvillainy 2 - The Madlib Remix.
On May 30, 2006 Adult Swim released Danger DOOM Occult Hymn EP, a digital EP and on July 6 the same year Lex released Danger DOOM Old School EP. The latter includes previously unreleased remixes by Madlib and Danger Mouse. Kidrobot and Stones Throw released an 8" tall Madvillain toy available to coincide with the release of the Chrome Children CD/DVD which featured a clip of a live performance of Madvillain. He continued to work with Adult Swim, doing voice-over work as Sherman the Giraffe on Perfect Hair Forever, being the voice for The Boondocks ads and previews and hosting their Christmas Eve 2006 programming.
Following the success of DangerDOOM, he signed a long term agreement with Lex in 2006. With the exception of a handful of guest appearances, there were no DOOM releases between mid-2006 and the release of Born Like This. DOOM's Born Like This was released on Lex on March 24, 2009. The album was DOOM's first solo album to chart in the USA.
2010-present: Key to the Kuffs and NehruvianDOOM:
In early 2010, he released the Gazzillion Ear EP on Lex which included the Thom Yorke Remix and two mixes by Jneiro Jarel. A further remix by MADVILLAINZ featuring a voice-mail message from Kanye West was released online. The release of the Gazzillion Ear EP coincided with DOOM's first ever live performances outside North America. On 5 March 2010, Lex and Sónar presented the first DOOM show in London, at The Roundhouse in Camden. The event was the first of many DOOM live performances around the world between early 2010 and the present. These shows included the Lex 10th Anniversary show at The Roundhouse with Ghostface Killah and Jneiro Jarel, performances in Europe with Gorillaz, support for Portishead and performances with Jneiro Jarel at Bestival 2012. During this period DOOM released some material on labels other than Lex. On 26 May 2010, part of the track Madvillain "Paper Mill" was released a digital single through Adult Swim.Expektoration, a live DOOM album, was released on 14 September 2010 through Gold Dust Media. In mid-2010, DOOM released the mix-tape "DOOM!", a collection of greatest hits, B-sides and rarities, including the theme for the video game Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars featuring Ghostface Killah, and Biochemical Equation featuring the RZA.
Upon completing his European tour, DOOM was refused entry into the United States. Regarding the case, he stated that "there's a lot of legalities" and that he was "done with the United States." Following this incident, DOOM settled in the UK and began recording an album with fellow Lex artist Jneiro Jarel, under the moniker JJ DOOM. DOOM contributed two exclusive JJ DOOM tracks to the Lex 10th Anniversary compilation album Complex Volume 1. The tracks were the Doom / Thom Yorke / Jonny Greenwood version of "Retarded Fren" and the Dave Sitek remix of "Rhymin Slang," They were released digitally in December 2011, and were subsequently released on vinyl on Record Store Day 2012. The JJ DOOM album Key to the Kuffs was released on August 20, 2012, and included guest features from Damon Albarn, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Khujo Goodie of Goodie Mob and Dungeon Family, and Boston Fielder. On August 19, 2013, an extended version, titled Key to the Kuffs (Butter Edition) was released, containing a bonus 9-track EP composed of new tracks and remixes.
In February 2013, Ghostface Killah revealed that he and DOOM were in the process of choosing tracks for their previously announced collaborative album. In August 2013, it was announced that DOOM and Bishop Nehru would collaborate on a project set to be released via Lex Records. The project was later revealed to be an album, titled NehruvianDOOM, and will be released on September 23, 2014.
Dumile has garnered attention for allegedly sending imposters to perform on his behalf. He countered that he had lost weight and thus looked - and sounded - different, before his road manager admitted the move was an intentional choice made by Dumile.