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9 January 1971 (age 46)
London, England, United Kingdom
Daniel Dumile (pronounced "doom-eel") is an American hip-hop artist who has taken on several stage names in his career. He was born in southwest London, England (approximately 1971) to a South African father and a West Indian mother; the family moved to New York and lived in Long Island where he was raised.
His debut in the world of rap music came when he made a guest appearance on the track "The Gas Face" by the rap group 3rd Bass. On "The Gas Face" he appeared as Zev Love X along with his younger brother DJ Subroc. Their group together was KMD, which stands for either "Kausing Much Damage," or "a positive Kause in a Much Damaged society." KMD signed with the now defunct Elektra Records label under the A&R Dante Ross and released 1991's Mr. Hood as part of a short-lived trend of Five Percent Nation hip-hop outings, along with labelmates Brand Nubian and other groups like Poor Righteous Teachers.
Subroc was accidentally struck and killed by a car in 1993 while attempting to cross a busy Long Island expressway, before the release of a second KMD album entitled Bl_ck B_st_rds. The group was subsequently dropped from Elektra Records before the release of the album due to controversy over the album's cover art which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny/sambo character being hanged from the gallows.
Still dealing with the loss of his brother, Dumile became disillusioned and began to suffer from bouts of depression. He disappeared from the hip-hop scene from 1994-1997, and during or shortly after this time, leaving New York City and settling in Atlanta. According to his official biography, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him." Meanwhile, Black Bastards was heavily bootlegged and Zev Love's legend grew. In 1997, he began appearing at the Nuyorican Poets Café at open mic events for rappers, although few people knew that the man freestyling with a stocking over his face was the former Zev. The imaginative MC began using the new identity MF DOOM, inspired by the Marvel Comics supervillain, Dr. Doom, using a metal mask while performing and refusing to be photographed without it ("MF" stands for "metal face").
The release of Operation: Doomsday in 1999 by independent label Fondle 'Em marked the official turning point for Dumile in his reinvention of himself from a major label recording artist of minor status to independent artist, where he would find his greatest success while maintaining the most control over his music.
Operation: Doomsday was received very well by underground listeners and was re-released in 2000. Starting in 2002, he began releasing albums of instrumental work, a series known as Special Herbs for several small record labels under the name 'Metal Fingers.' In 2003 he created the alter-egos King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn to release two new albums and contribute to another. The same year, he also worked on the debut album by the Monsta Island Czars, a group consisting of MF Grimm and several underground New York rappers.
MF DOOM's first commercial breakthrough came in 2004, with the album Madvillainy with producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. Released by Stones Throw Records, the album was a minor critical and commercial success, hailed as a classic by some for its excellent beats and abstract rhymes. Late in the year, he released MM..Food? with the Minnesota-based underground label Rhymesayers Entertainment, using various food items to metaphorically explain life and his own complex personality. As Viktor Vaughn he released Venomous Villain (also called VV2), an album which received mixed reviews for its length (33 minutes) and the fact that he only rapped for, in total, ten minutes.
In 2005 MF DOOM took another step towards the commercial mainstream while maintaining his control as an independent artist with The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with producer DJ Danger Mouse under the group name DangerDoom, was released on October 11, 2005, which used characters from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. He also voiced the giraffe named Sherman in Adult Swim's Perfect Hair Forever. Now in production is a collaboration album called Swift & Changeable with Ghostface Killah, who also appeared on the DangerDoom song "The Mask." He is also planning to collaborate with producer Madlib to release another Madvillain album in 2006.
Dumile's eccentric wordplay makes him a favorite of underground hip-hop fans. He is heavily influenced by American comic books (especially the Fantastic Four and their battles with Dr. Doom). Japanese science fiction is also an influence; the concept for King Geedorah (which is derived from Ghidorah) and the Monsta Island Czars comes from the Godzilla movie series. He is also renowned for bringing comedy back into the sometimes overly serious world of rap lyrics and a unique, sample-heavy production style.
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