The emcee formerly known as MF DOOM officially reemerges with “Keys to the Kuffs,” his collaboration album with producer Jneiro Jarel under the duo name JJ DOOM.
As an artist who intentionally makes himself hard to get in contact with, it’s a breath of fresh air to see DOOM all over the radar recently.
Frank 151 dedicated an issue to him, XXL posted an online exclusive feature story about him and he upset fans in London when he was a no-show at a scheduled performance sending a DOOM imposter instead. But this shouldn’t surprise true DOOM fans who have heard the masked emcee repeatedly refer to himself as the “Supervillain.”
“Keys to the Kuffs” plays in with a mash-up of various movie dialogue samples accompanied by instrumentals that are reminiscent of earlier DOOM albums. The intro transitions into “Guv’nor,” the album’s internet single with warped visuals. On this track, DOOM impresses with rhymes that show that his multis are still on point and amusing:
“Who could knock the most dead birds out the sky, then spread a lie, and say he know why?”
There are layers here. On the surface it’s typical rap bravado and the question is rhetorical. The answer is: DOOM. What lies beneath is a reference to the incident in Arkansas last year where dead birds fell from the sky and the conspiracies about the cause of it.
But on “Banished,” DOOM sounds forced over JJ’s uptempo beat, making me wish that the track was used as an instrumental interlude like “Viberian Sun, Pt. II” instead of a rap track. Though he calls it a “third degree black belt flow,” it sounds more like Drunken Master rapping. Here the production surely outshines DOOM’s raps, but you’ll play this one back a few times to catch everything he says.
A DOOM album wouldn’t be complete without mention to how most emcees are whack in comparison, so he’s sure to say things like, “Let’s be very clear: emcees is dairy air” as he does on “Rhymin’ Slang.”
Overall, this album is an engaging listen. As usual, DOOM makes listeners re-listen to tracks to catch his multi-layered, witty rhymes and wordplay. Even at times when DOOM’s rhymes feel mediocre (or you’re just spacing out not really listening to the lyrics) the album’s production carries it through.
DOOM reminds me of the villains in cartoons and comics who partake in soliloquy or narrate their evil plots in a room by themselves.
I’ll be listening to “Keys to the Kuffs” on heavy rotation till I unlock the motives behind DOOM’s evil schemes.Contact Adeshola Adigun.