MF Doom, Prolific Masked Underground Rapper, Dead At 49


Daniel Dumile, the hip-hop artist who performed in a metallic mask under the moniker MF Doom for decades, has died, his family announced on Thursday (December 31). According to a note posted to his social media accounts, Doom died on October 31; no cause was given.

His wife, Jasmine, penned the statement that began, “Begin all things by giving thanks to THE ALL!” and was addressed to “Dumile.”

“The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for,” it reads. “Thank you for all the things you have shown, taught and given to me, our children and our family. Thank you for teaching me how to forgive beings and give another chance, not to be so quick to judge and write off. Thank you for showing how not to be afraid to love and be the best person I could ever be. My world will never be the same without you. Words will never express what you and Malachi mean to me, I love both and adore you always. May THE ALL continue to bless you, our family and the planet.”

Born in London and raised in New York after his family relocated to New York, Doom spent his early years in music as Zev Love X in the rap group KMD with his brother, DJ Subroc, in the early 1990s. One of his earliest appearances was on 3rd Bass’s “The Gas Face” in 1989. After his brother’s death, Doom reemerged as a formidable underground hip-hop presence, donning what became his signature mask similar to that of Marvel Comics villain Doctor Doom. “A visual always brings a first impression,” he told The New Yorker in 2009. “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?”

In the annals of music history, Doom is perhaps best known for 2004’s Madvillainy, one of the most celebrated hip-hop albums of all time. A collaboration with DJ and producer Madlib, the duo called themselves Madvillain, and their debut album showcased a panoply of subterranean sounds that, along with fellow visionary J Dilla, helped solidify a moody sonic vocabulary for the genre rooted in unexpected samples and hazy beats. They released a remix album in 2008.

An incredibly prolific artist, his discography went well beyond Madvillainy. He released six solo albums under various aliases, in addition to other collaborations with folks like Danger Mouse, Westside Gunn, Czarface, Jneiro Jarel, and Bishop Nehru, and a series of instrumental albums. A producer as well as an MC, Doom made music for other artists like Ghostface Killah and Joey Badass as well.

Along with Danny Brown, he featured on The Avalanches’s peppy hit “Frankie Sinatra” in 2016. Earlier in December, he released a slightly psychedelic new collaboration with BadBadNotGood entitled “The Chocolate Conquistadors.”

Fellow artists and fans are sharing their love for Doom on social media.