January 22, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

MF Doom, masked and masterful hip-hop artist, dies at 49

MF Doom, the cerebral and willfully mysterious rapper and producer beloved by hip-hop connoisseurs for the complex rhymes he delivered from behind a metallic mask, has died. He was 49.

His death was announced Thursday in an Instagram post signed by his wife, Jasmine, who said that Doom had “transitioned” on Oct. 31. A spokesman for Rhymesayers, a label for which Doom recorded, confirmed his death. No cause was given.

Known for close collaborations with producers such as Madlib and Danger Mouse — and for his use of a variety of alter egos including King Geedorah and Viktor Vaughn — Doom, born Daniel Dumile, cut a proudly idiosyncratic path through rap music in the 1990s and 2000s, burrowing deep into a self-made comic book-style mythology even as hip-hop reached increasingly commercial heights in the pop mainstream.

His music was dense but funky, gloomy yet streaked with an off-kilter sense of humor; his records helped clear a path for younger hip-hop eccentrics like Playboi Carti and Tyler, the Creator.

“My soul is crushed,” Flying Lotus tweeted Thursday, before adding that 2004’s “Madvillainy” album was “all u ever needed in hip hop.” On Instagram, El-P of Run the Jewels thanked Doom “for keeping it weird and raw always.”

Of his decision to perform in a mask, Dumile, who was born in London and grew up on Long Island, told the New Yorker in 2009, “I wanted to get onstage and orate, without people thinking about the normal things people think about. Like girls being like, ‘Oh, he’s sexy,’ or ‘I don’t want him, he’s ugly,’ and then other dudes sizing you up. A visual always brings a first impression. But if there’s going to be a first impression I might as well use it to control the story. So why not do something like throw a mask on?”

A full obituary will appear soon.