“MM…FOOD” and the Unique Sound of MF DOOM


“MM… FOOD” is the perfect introductory album for MF DOOM. (Courtesy of Instagram)

“MM…FOOD” is an anagram of the artist MF DOOM’s name and the album’s title, which was released 18 years ago on Nov. 16, 2004. The album’s title is the perfect representation of the double entendres, metaphors and several food-related samples that are utilized throughout the tracklist. The titles of the songs are all food related, but the messages go far beyond the artist’s favorite foods, as they touch upon topics such as the exploitation of drama for popularity in “Beef Rapp,” and the true meaning of friendships in “Deep Fried Frenz.”

   Before analyzing the album, it’s important to know a little more about Daniel Dumile. Dumile (A.K.A. MF DOOM, Metal Face, Metal Fingers, The Villain, Viktor Vaughn, Zev Love X), is the famous underground emcee behind the notorious metal mask. The artist was born in 1971 in London. However, he grew up in various parts of New York, such as Long Beach, Long Island and Manhattan. From 1997-2001, Daniel Dumile spent a majority of his time freestyling in underground open-mics under his alter ego, MF DOOM. Dumile was equipped with a metal mask similar to the Marvel Comic of Doctor Doom, and in his rhymes he referenced his alter-ego as a villain alongside other cast members in the MF DOOM/Doctor Doom universe such as Mr. Fantastik, the rival of MF DOOM. Through his creation of these characters, MF DOOM effectively formed an untapped area of rap that is only limited by his imagination. Unfortunately, the reality of Daniel Dumile’s life consisted of living from bench-to-bench in various parts of Manhattan. He mentions his near-homeless experience through the backstory of the MF DOOM character, who had a scarred face and was taking time to recover. Luckily, one of the other artists at the open-mics found Daniel Dumile to be particularly interesting and gave him the opportunity to sign with Fondle Em’ Records. This opportunity allowed Dumile to release the full-length EP, “Operation: Doomsday,” under the alter-ego of MF DOOM. The success of the EP allowed Daniel Dumile to focus on his music career to make a living. In 2020, Daniel Dumile passed away in his birthplace with no cause of death provided. The perfect way for the villain to disappear.

   “Beef Rap,” the first song on the album, contains a multitude of samples from films that MF DOOM felt related to his experience as a homeless person. The first skit in the song contains a sample from the movie, “Wild Style,” which contains a conversation between substance abusers who are tight on money after spending it on paraphernalia. The next skit contains a conversation from a 1942 horror film, “Bowery at Midnight,” which contains a peculiar conversation between two men at dinner. The first man asks for soup, but the second man ignores the question and asks about what happened to his hand. The second man, the owner of the hospital, orders the nurse to attend to the man with the disfigured hand. After that the man with the disfigured hand receives medication and no longer wants any soup. This conversation directly correlates to the previous skit because  they both include Daniel Dumile’s thoughts on the current systems related to substance abuse. Following the first two skits are four more skits containing random voice lines and scenes from movies and shows related to superheroes and comic books that Dumile remembers from his childhood. This theme of Dumile’s memories and how he uses them as a scapegoat to avoid the “crooked system” occurs throughout the entire album. The samples used in the skits throughout the album seem to subtly tell a story that relate to the thought process of Daniel Dumile during his time on the streets. His limitless creativity and passion for comic books all contribute to the success of the character MF DOOM.

   In the first verse of Beef Rap, MF DOOM delivers some of his clever double entendres. In the first bar MF DOOM says, “Beef rap, could lead to getting your teeth capped.” Around the time that the album was written, the documentary, “Beef,” containing the evolution of rap battles to street violence popularized the term “beef” which is used for the tension between certain groups and people became a popular turn in the rap community after the release of the documentary. In the line used by MF DOOM, the slang term “beef” is used to dissuade other emcees from using his name in a negative context as it might lead to them losing teeth. The other meaning of beef, which is the literal meaning, implies that eating too much greasy beef could lead to a need for dental work. MF DOOM uses these double entendres throughout the album and one of his staples. His ability to use the double meanings related to what is occurring in pop culture and the rap community has paved a path for other artists to use. The emphasis on deeper lyricism has led to the rise of popular rap artists such as Kendrick Lamar, who has stated that he took inspiration from MF DOOM. However, MF DOOM’s biggest strength is his seamless flow and unique style. 

   At a first listen, it may seem like some of MF DOOM’s lines contain simple rhyme schemes. However, fans and music critics have found MF DOOM’s intricate use of complex rhyme schemes and lyrical timing to be genius. For example, the song, “Rapp Snitch Knishes,” contains a line that reads as follows, “Hitting on many trees, feel real linen. Spitting on enemies, get the steel for tin men.” At a glance these two bars may seem as if they are simply connected by rhyming the last words of each bar, but upon closer observation, MF DOOM uses internal rhymes with the words “trees” and “enemies” which was common practice for many of the larger artists to use at the time, like  The Notorious B.I.G. and Eminem. It doesn’t stop there. In the beginning part of each bar, MF DOOM uses words with more syllables to make it feel longer, and words with less syllables to make it feel shorter at the end. The incredibly meticulousness of this style allows for MF DOOM to incorporate setups and punchlines into his lyrics. This same style of timing was used by Mozart, one of the greatest composers of all time. MF DOOM’s externally simplistic and internally complicated style allows for any type of audience to enjoy his legendary music.

    “MM…FOOD” is a fantastic album for anyone who wants to explore MF DOOM and his unique sound, style and flow. It’s 15 songs and only around 49 minutes long, which makes it an easy listen. Songs such as “Rapp Snitch Knishes,” “One Beer” and “Deep Fried Frenz” are some of my favorites, but there are so many more songs on this track that I have in my playlists. Overall, MF DOOM is one of the greatest emcees of all time, and everyone should give him a chance. And remember, all caps when you spell the man’s name.