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Everyone has an MF DOOM story. My discovery happened in the most authentic, aux cord-adjacent way when I was 19. In the middle of an intense ass-whooping in NBA 2K12, my roommate paused the game to skim through songs to put through his hilariously loud speaker, stopping on something sinister set to a thumping bass drum—and an accordion. A rapper emerged with a villainous voice, determined to make me reckon with my time on this Earth and how cheesy Doritos, Fritos, and Cheetos were. Now me and my friends, we’d just finished listening to some songs that were popular at the time; stuff that didn’t have the mettle that this had. I was floored. Pausing the game two minutes later, I asked him what the hell he’d put on. Laughing, he said, “You’ve never heard of MF DOOM?”
For the next few weeks, I got up to speed on who was, and is, still widely considered one of the best MCs ever—and one of the most important cultural safeguards for the genre’s unrelenting creative magnitudes. I never became a DOOM historian, but his songs are what I return to when I need a jolt of evil air. Whenever I’d heard enough autotuned bullshit to make me want to vomit, I’d seek out a dose of his medicine to make me grimace and realize that hip-hop was best in the gutter. The best way to describe how he made me feel is deep, sorrowful, and intense—while smiling at the same time.
MF DOOM’s wife revealed in December that the legend, born Daniel Dumile, had died months before, striking a massive hole in the center of hip-hop. MF DOOM, who had been leaving masterful ransom notes for the genre since the release of 1999’s Operation: Doomsday and all the way up until Czarface Meets Metal Face in 2018, was gone.
No matter if you’d heard one song from MF DOOM, or you’d heard all of them, one thing remained clear: when the world went right, DOOM went left. Aside from being a rapping mastermind with the kind of flow that let him stumble into thickets of mind-melting alliteration, he let it be known that he existed to create art that was against the establishment—a foundational element of hip-hop. No matter the latest trend or fad in rap, you can always return to MF DOOM’s catalog for a fix of grit that couldn’t be found anywhere else.
Hip-hop legends like Q-Tip, Questlove, and Busta Rhymes all took to social media to pay respects to the hip-hop legend. Having experienced his rise first hand, they were able to speak to the influence that he’s had on the genre—something that artists like Tyler, The Creator and Earl Sweatshirt have been very vocal about over the years. But aside from the aforementioned acts, MF DOOM had a huge impact on a current generation of rappers who are more creative than ever. It’s safe to say that DOOM’s inspiration continues from generation to generation.
We asked six current MCs how the Metal First terrorist inspired them. Long Live MF DOOM.