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Keys to the Kuffs by JJ Doom

JJ Doom

Keys to the Kuffs

Release Date: Aug 21, 2012

Genre(s): Underground Rap, Left-Field Hip-Hop

Record label: Lex


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Album Review: Keys to the Kuffs by JJ Doom

Very Good, Based on 16 Critics

Resident Advisor - 80
Based on rating 4.0/5

Living up to his Marvel villain-inspired alter ego, Daniel Dumile tends to never be too far away from controversy. Having been accused of sending a succession of doppelgangers to take his place on stage during a stateside tour in '08, the British-born, US-raised rapper was seemingly up to his old tricks again last month. Scheduled to DJ at Livin Proof's Saturday night party at Concrete, Dumile's management team are alleged to have demanded extra money shortly after the doors of the Shoreditch basement had opened.

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Prefix Magazine - 80
Based on rating 8.0/10

Key to the Kuffs is the debut album from JJ DOOM, the collaborative project from producer Jneiro Jarel and masked rapper DOOM (formerly MF DOOM). While both have done great work as individual artists, this album was a joint effort. As such, it’s interesting to note that with DOOM on the mic and Jarel on production, the relationship between their separate sounds is brought to the forefront when considering the full album.

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New Musical Express (NME) - 80
Based on rating 4/5

“‘Ere! Wot you got that mask on for?!” goes the sample on opener ‘Waterlogged’. DOOM’s moved to Blighty, you see, and built a nest in south London. But musically, aside from a few dropped aitches, you’d struggle to hear the shift. ‘Key To The Kuffs’ is the masked man’s regular shtick: the sound of a decade’s record-buying sprinkled across the productions of the alt-hip-hop craftsman de jour (Jneiro Jarel is to this what Danger Mouse was to the Danger Doom project and Madlib to Madvillain).

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Beats Per Minute (formerly One Thirty BPM) - 76
Based on rating 76%%

JJ DOOMKeys to The Kuffs[Lex; 2012]By Winston Robbins; September 17, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetFor better or worse, I’m feeling very American lately, which is almost certainly a direct result of watching the political conventions that took place last week. As a result, reviewing this record has felt very similar to the process behind making any educated political decision. As with any political issue, I like to get all the facts out on the table in front of me before reaching my final conclusion.

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Pitchfork - 73
Based on rating 7.3/10

Here's a cruel twist of fate for you: A few years after catching hell for sending doppelgangers to take his place onstage as some weird conceptual fuck-around during a 2008 North American tour, DOOM spent 2010 touring in Europe as the genuine article-- and then got stranded there, reportedly on visa issues. Eventually, he went from stranded to extradited, left to make his home back in the London birthplace he hadn't lived in since he was a kid. Whether this is what really put a potential crimp in every possible latter-day planning-stages project from Madvillainy 2 to Swift and Changeable is up in the air, it seems almost beside the point in this context: He's also been isolated from his family, most of his friends, and a significant amount of his own personal agency.

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Slant Magazine - 70
Based on rating 3.5/5

Following yet another extended period of silence, the much-beloved underground rap craftsman known as MF DOOM has finally returned with a new album. And while it’s not the one we’ve been waiting for (highly anticipated joint efforts with Madlib and Ghostface still await completion nearly six years after being announced), Key to the Kuffs, a collaboration between DOOM (a.k.a. Daniel Dumile) and producer Jneiro Jarel, is a welcome addition to the Supervillain canon.

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PopMatters - 70
Based on rating 7/10

Ever since 2005’s DangerDoom release, or perhaps more appropriately the Doomposter allegations, once-prolific MF DOOM has felt like an artist once again content to slink around in the shadows. The excellent (if divisive) Born Like This released in 2009, but otherwise most of DOOM’s notable releases have been relegated to rumor and hearsay: a sequel to Madvillainy, the Ghostface-collaboration LP Swift & Changeable, or the Masta Ace album with DOOM production that turned out to be Ace discovering DOOM’s Special Herbs beat series from the early 2000s and picking out his favorite instrumentals. It’s been a half decade that’s felt appropriately mired in fan fantasy considering DOOM’s obsession with comic book storylines, but coupled with rumors of alcoholism having an increasing affect on his vocal performances and this summer’s revelation that a return trip to his birth country of the United Kingdom resulted in his being sequestered there with a non-existent Visa, it’s been increasingly acceptable to believe DOOM might just be an icon of underground hip-hop’s renaissance lost to the subtleties of life outside a recording studio.

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Drowned In Sound - 60
Based on rating 6/10

Key to the Kuffs. Fifteen collaborations between MF DOOM and psychedelic hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel, aka JJ. Three instrumentals. Six guest appearances, and for three of these, DOOM, aka vigilante rapman Daniel Dumile, doesn’t show face. Truth is, the more we learn about the JJ DOOM mainman ….

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No Ripcord - 60
Based on rating 6/10

This is not the new DOOM collaboration we’d been hoping for, but considering how much his output has dried up over the past few years, fans will be grateful for anything new – even this brief and uneven smattering of new verses (DOOM appears on just 9 out of 15 tracks). The guy put out four of the best rap records of a decade in 2003 & 2004, but you’d have to be optimistic to still see Key to the Kuffs as a pit stop on the way to the promised Ghostface Killah collab or a proper Madvillainy 2. Understandable disappointment aside, Key to the Kuffs remains worth checking out, as DOOM’s partnership with offbeat producer Jneiro Jarel provides enough tangential ideas to pique interests again.

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Consequence of Sound - 44
Based on rating C-

So DOOM has teamed up with an exciting producer (this time Jneiro Jarel), picked a theme to unite the team-up, and come out with an album under a moniker that combines the names and brands of the rapper and his collaborator. Not exactly a fresh formula, but one that has certainly worked in the past (Madvillainy, anyone?). On Key to the Kuffs, the duo known collectively as JJ DOOM work off of the fact that the man once known as Daniel Dumile was born in England, winding up with an album that references his semi-home lyrically, takes samples from Anglo-cultural material, and features famous Brits Damon Albarn and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons.

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Opinion: Excellent

No one ever said hip-hop was a one-ingredient dish. Chances are that if you’ve been dining on the musical equivalent of rice cakes, you’re either not listening to the right stuff or are content with others hoarding the filet mignon. Enter hip-hop’s filet mignon. DOOM, the many-monikered supervillain, and one of a few blokes to dedicate a whole album to food, is at it again.

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BBC Music
Opinion: Excellent

A terrific collaboration between two of hip hop’s maverick talents. Noel Gardner 2012 A common quasi-joke about UK hip hop has it that Slick Rick is the best rapper that Britain has produced – even though he only counts on a technicality, having moved to New York some time before becoming an MC. If you want to make this a little more contemporary, you can use DOOM – born Daniel Dumile in early 70s London, his family emigrated to the Big Apple not long after.

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The Quietus
Opinion: Excellent

DOOM is the man's name and you better spell it with all caps. Only, the man behind the mask is Daniel Dumile, and you may know him by any one of the names MF DOOM, Metal Fingers, Viktor Vaughan, King Geedorah, Zev Love X, or one half of Madvilain, Danger DOOM – and now – JJ DOOM. While strictly speaking at least five of these aliases are an extension of the same character, it's clear from viewing his career through this wide-angle lens that here is an artist who thrives off of his own creativity.

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Opinion: Very Good

Underground rap legend MF Doom was exiled to England in 2010 over a customs mix-up. The return to his birthplace provides loose inspiration for Doom's ninth album, Key to the Kuffs, crafted with open-minded Atlanta producer Jneiro Jarel. Jarel's production boasts a kaleidoscopic range, from throbbing electronica (the Damon Albarn-assisted "Bite The Thong"), hyperactive 808 bounce ("Wash Your Hands") and the soothing strings of "Winter Blues," a sweet ode to the wife he left behind.

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Opinion: Very Good

When you set your collaboration bar as high as Madvillainy, all future collabos are subject to over-scrutiny, but MF Doom spent 2012 rekindling his love of the super-hero team-up, joining Ghostface Killah for the DOOMSTARKS single and partnering with abstract rapper/producer Jneiro Jarel for this slab of smart and wild. Make that U.K.-inspired smart and wild as the now 41-year-old Doom reflects upon his birthplace of London in the year his hometown is hosting the Olympics, although there's no Danny Boyle-ish wide-eyed sense of wonder here. There is, however, Blur's Damon Albarn, who lends some songwriting and a mumbled hook to "Bite the Thong," the album's crooked, key track.

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DIY Magazine
Opinion: Fairly Good

DOOM has slipped the cuffs and he’s on the run in south London.The new album from the metal-faced rapper is a collaboration with producer Jneiro Jarel, made over the past two years since DOOM returned to England, the country he was born in. And he tries his hardest to let you know he’s back in town. There are snippets of Cockney chatter samples scattered throughout JJ’s electro beats and DOOM even references ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ at one point.But the villain doesn’t sound completely at home.

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