As the ‘90s came to a close, hip-hop music was thriving in two separate ecosystems. On one side, Puffy’s Bad Boy Records, Roc-A-Fella and the rest of the major label world was pumping plenty of shiny music by bling-ed out, made for MTV stars. These pop stars sold truckloads, but it felt like a lot of “empty calories.” On the other side of the coin, a very strong underground scene had emerged in the mid-1990s worldwide. Hungry, innovative artists who had no use for the major label system thrived artistically in this ever-growing pond, ranging from Dr. Octagon and Jurassic 5 in Cali, Atmosphere and the Rhymesayers crew in the Midwest, and Company Flow and Definitive Jux in the East, among others. As the decade closed, from somewhere even beyond both of those poles, a man who would come to rule many corners the underground universe for the next two decades appeared from depths that were darker than most of his fans would ever know: MF DOOM.
The artist formerly known as Zev Love X of major-label-but-underground heroes KMD had disappeared from most fans’ view in around 1994 – after his brother and artistic co-producer Subroc was killed, and the group’s Black Bastards album was shelved by Elektra. By 1997, DOOM started peeking his head up from the grime, with no-distribution singles on Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ‘Em label like “Red & Gold” and “Dead Bent.” As other appearances and singles trickled through the underground, by 1999 the album Operation: Doomsday appeared seemingly out of nowhere, again on Fondle ‘Em, and fans who actively ran from the glitzier side of rap music ate it up like they had been on a hunger strike. Musically raw and at-times off-kilter, former Fondle ‘Em singles like the aforementioned tunes plus “Gas Drawls,” “Hey!” and “Go With The Flow” were joined by a whole slew of new tunes. It all sounded familiar but new at the same time.
It shouldn’t be overlooked that in addition to the dusty, wobbling music, the former Zev Love X completely changed up his vocal style on the tracks that would land on Doomsday, chopping his flow up and bringing a whole new approach to his formerly liquid, and often humorous lyricism. Standouts on this bonafide underground masterwork are honestly hard to pick, since fans each have their own DOOM faves. But “Doomsday,” “Rhymes Like Dimes,” “The MIC,” the experimental “Tick, Tick…” (with MF Grimm) and “Red & Gold” (with King Ghidra) are great examples of how stretched-out this visionary album is.
Back again on vinyl where it belongs, MF DOOM’s 1999 classic Operation: Doomsday is now presented on a premium grade LP, with audio re-mastered from the original Fondle’Em Records release, and a poster of the album cover art!
Underneath his mysterious metal mask, MF DOOM hides the cachet underground legends are made of. After KMD (his first group)’s 1994 sophomore album Bl_ck B_st_rds was shelved by Elektra in 1994 and his blood brother Subroc (one half of the sibling rap duo) passed away, surviving frontman Zev Love X mutated into the MC Avenger known as MF DOOM and the Rap world is better for it. This 19-cut deep album is ridiculously dope, in a bizarro Ol’ Dirty Bastard kind of way. Doom sounds either high or drunk on most of the tracks, his self-produced beats are gritty, and his rhyme styles are almost indecipherable. On arguably the best track, “Rhymes Like Dimes,” Doom weaves some pointed lyrics through his abstract wordplay, spitting ‘only in America could you find a way to earn a healthy buck / And still keep your attitude on self-destruct.’
Who You Think I Am? features DOOM‘s crew M.onster I.sland C.zars, while on “?” he trades hot verses with former Columbia artist Kurious Jorge. Doom’s avant-garde ghetto-rhyme philosophies take even more intentionally weird twists on “Tick, Tick…” where he and guest MC MF Grimm’s flows warble over a rhythm track whose tempo speeds up and slows down continually. The comic-book themed skits, will help take you deep into the mind of an MC who is as otherworldly as they come. And in today’s bland commercial Rap universe, Operation: Doomsday’s left-of-center beats and rhymes are the perfect remedy.
A1 – The Time We Faced Doom (Skit) (2:04)
A2 – Doomsday (4:58)
A3 – Rhymes Like Dimes (4:18)
A4 – The Finest (4:01)
A5 – Back In The Days (Skit) (0:45)
B1 – Go With The Flow (3:36)
B2 – Tick, Tick… (4:04)
B3 – Red And Gold (4:42)
B4 – The Hands Of Doom (Skit) (1:50)
B5 – Who You Think I Am? (3:24)
C1 – Doom, Are You Awake? (Skit) (1:12)
C2 – Hey! (3:46)
C3 – Operation: Greenbacks (3:46)
C4 – The Mic (3:02)
C5 – The Mystery Of Doom (Skit) (0:21)
D1 – Dead Bent (2:22)
D2 – Gas Drawls (3:43)
D3 – ? (3:09)
D4 – Hero v.s. Villain (Epilogue) (2:55)