"Born like this/ Into this/ As the chalk faces smile/ As Mrs Death laughs/ As the elevators break/ As political landscapes dissolve." The first album from Daniel Dumile's latest pseudonym takes its name from Charles Bukowski's poem Dinosauria, We, whose opening lines are sampled here on the B-movie apocalypse of Cellz. The late writer's tale of "hospitals which are so expensive it's cheaper to die... a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed" functions both as a prophesy of doom and a shadow biography of DOOM.
What the hell happened to Daniel Dumile? People used to think MF DOOM was slacking if he only released one album a year, but sometime after The Mouse and the Mask, the dude just up and vanished. That led to about three years' worth of fanbase-angering concerts featuring alleged impostors, theoretically planned albums promising Ghostface collaborations or a KMD revival that never arrived, scattered production work heavy on already-familiar Special Herbs leftovers, and a remixed Madvillainy faux-sequel with enough good-to-great Madlib beats to make you wish DOOM actually recorded new lyrics over them. The last time he went this far underground, his brother had just been killed and Elektra had booted KMD off the roster because Black Bastards was too controversial and uncommercial.
DOOM: BORN LIKE THISMore ear-poppers from one of rap's zaniestNow that metal-faced rapper DOOM has dropped the MF from his name and insisted on capitalization of the remainder, his moniker matches what his devotees howl from the audience at shows where he's even rumored to appear. Even with a new pseudonym—his AKA sheet includes Zev Love X, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah and half of Madvillain—the perpetually hoarse rhymesayer born Daniel Dumile is still dishing out confounding couplets that have become his trademark. "And the lucky contestant was sent / a whole year's supply of buckets of yucky excrement," he slurs out on the minute-and-a-half "Rap Ambush.
If it seems like an annoyingly long time since DOOM's (he dropped the MF in another act of re-baptism) last release, it's because it is. Four years have passed since the collaborative concept toon-attack DangerDoom and his last skit-laced solo effort, MM Food, came in 2004. Since that the world of hip-hop has mourned the death of J Dilla and seen the propagation of ghastly auto-tune.
For someone who released what seemed like an album a week for a while, mercurial legend Doom (aka MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn, etc.) has been uncharacteristically silent as of late. Numerous delays and rumors that he's sending out imposters to perform in his stead aside, he’s finally gotten down to the business of a new album. BORN LIKE THIS features Doom's agile, smoky voice, ably abetted by producers like Madlib and J Dilla, among others, in a series of mind bending, sample-heavy compositions.
The masked villain, who now goes by just DOOM, has, more or less, been in hiding since 2006. Sure, he produced and rapped for like-minded artists, including two fantastic tracks on Jake One’s White Van Music. But many of DOOM’s beats weren’t exactly original or exclusive. The majority of them appeared on his instrumental Special Herbs volumes.
Identity has always been an issue for Daniel Dumile. First appearing in KMD, his original incarnation was Zev Love X, a peachfuzz MC whose afrocentric lean split the difference between the Leaders of the New School and Brand Nubian. After his brother Subroc (KMD’s DJ) was killed crossing the Long Island Expressway, Dumile went on hiatus, questioned it all and finally returned a half decade later wearing a metal mask.
A lot of reviews of Born Like This will probably start off blowing a lot of smoke up your ass about how strange Daniel Dumile’s 4 year hiatus from releasing new material was. After all, from 1999 to 2005 the man did release albums at a rate that would make Ryan Adams jealous. He was constantly in the studio turning out amazing material at a furious pace.
Since 2005's The Mouse and the Mask collaboration with Danger Mouse, Doom's activity sunk so low that rumors began about the London-born, New York-bred rapper, aka Daniel Dumile, hiring ghost performers to handle his sets. Born Like This, his third disc, won't encourage the idea that he's done much during the hiatus besides drop the MF from his moniker and work on his tongue twisters, but the Madvillain sells it. There's something about spitting "major vets spaded through the vest with a bayonet" ("Microwave Mayo") that doesn't ask for change.