MF DOOM is my favourite rapper of all time. He was a pioneer in underground hip hop, influencing so many artists today in both the modern underground and mainstream. His unique style of rapping, dense rhyme schemes, colourful production, and incredible discography cemented him as one of the most legendary rappers to ever touch the mic.
1. Mr. Hood (1991)
DOOM started his career under the alias Zev Love X, as part of the hip hop trio KMD. The quick, jazzy production and lighthearted rapping is very reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest or De La Soul, who dominated the hip hop scene at the time. It's a fun, laid-back record which may not be the most innovative or original, but it's still solid enough that I can put it on at any time to lighten the mood.
2. Bl_ck B_st_rds (1993)
The follow-up to Mr. Hood takes a darker approach, with far more spacey and warped production. The quick and charming rapping style is still apparent, but for me, this record doesn't hold the same quality as its predecessor. Far fewer tracks stand out on their own, and I never feel inclined to revisit it, unlike KMD's debut.
3. Operation Doomsday (1999)
Zev Love X took a long hiatus after his brother and fellow KMD band member, DJ Subroc, was struck by a car and killed.
Years later, Zev Love X returned under the new alias of MF DOOM, the mysterious supervillain who hides behind a mask of metal. This album is near perfect, with smooth, catchy production all handled by DOOM, and some engaging, rhyme-heavy verses. DOOM still has that carefree energy to his verses from the KMD days, making it such an uplifting and energetic listen.
4. Take Me to Your Leader (2003)
Under another alias (this time under the name of King Geedorah), TMTYL is just as creative and smooth as Operation Doomsday. DOOM delivers some of his best verses on tracks like 'Fazers' and 'The Fine Print'. For a good portion of this album, he takes a backseat, focussing more on production while other rappers handle the verses. Therefore, it's one of his most diverse and exciting records, with such effortless and buttery production.
5. Vaudeville Villain (2003)
Conversely, on this album, DOOM has no production credits, with all his effort going into his pen and delivery. Here, he takes the alias of Viktor Vaughn, a troublesome youth whose vivid stories of crime and selfishness are described throughout the album. DOOM's storytelling here is incredible, painting such vivid pictures over the dark, atmospheric production. His delivery also has a youthful energy to it, setting the record apart from his other releases during the 2000s.
6. Madvillainy (2004)
Deemed by many to be DOOM's magnum opus, Madvillainy is his gritty and abstract collaboration with underground producer, Madlib. The album captures such a unique sound. It sounds so old and grimey, but deliberately so, creating such a warped and dark atmosphere. DOOM's rapping is on another level. While he lacks the energy he displayed on Vaudeville Villain, his verses are dense with dozens of internal rhymes which all hold meaning. It's one of the best produced and performed albums ever, and arguably the greatest collaboration in hip hop.
7. Venomous Villain (2004)
For his next album, DOOM took on the alias of Viktor Vaughn one last time. The production, like on Vaudeville Villain, is handled entirely by random producers, but on Venomous Villain, the end product is far less consistent. This is because the producers were chosen randomly via a raffle, resulting in some incredible beats followed by some that are no more than subpar. DOOM still delivers some amazing verses, assisted by a variety of guests who make the album diverse and fresh.
8. MM... FOOD (2004)
In many ways, MM... FOOD sounds like the sequel to Operation Doomsday. DOOM is back to handling production for the entire album, and it sounds just as smooth and groovy as his villainous debut. On this record, every song is themed around different food, using food with some great wordplay to tie it to themes of love, hip hop, and villainy. It's everything good about Operation Doomsday, only amplified, resulting in one of his finest works yet.
9. The Mouse and the Mask (2005)
This is the collaboration between DOOM and rising producer Danger Mouse, with the whole album themed around the characters from shows on the Adult Swim TV channel. On paper, it sounds like a mess, but the final product is actually one of DOOM's most accessible and fun albums. The skits involving various Adult Swim characters get tiring after repeated listens, but the crisp production never gets old. DOOM sounds like he's having a lot of fun, joined on tracks by legends such as CeeLo Green, Talib Kweli, and Ghostface Killah.
10. Metal Fingers Presents: Special Herbs, The Box Set Vol. 0 - 9 (2006)
This is a compilation of all the beat tapes DOOM had released since his comeback in 1999. It features beats from Mr. Hood up to MM... FOOD, along with unused beats and other production he would later use for his next albums. If you're a fan of DOOM's production style, I could not recommend this more.There is not a subpar beat to be found here, and from start to finish, it's brilliant instrumental hip hop.
11. BORN LIKE THIS (2009)
The production here isn't quite as smooth and memorable as his previous works, but at its best it creates such a foreboding, dark tone perfect for DOOM's moody delivery. Joined by legends like Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, J Dilla, and a handful of others, it's another amazing album with so much to love. My main issue is that it doesn't feel as tight and cohesive as usual, with the album fizzling out at the end without a satisfying conclusion.
12. Key to the Kuffs (2012)
This album is the collaboration between MF DOOM and producer Jneiro Jarel. It's one of DOOM's weakest albums in my opinion, with a few forgettable beats, lazy verses, and songs I'm indifferent to. However, at its best, it still has some of DOOM's best songs such as 'Guv'nor' and 'Banished.' The spacey, futuristic production is unlike anything DOOM had rapped on before, and while it doesn't always work, it's still an interesting and worthwhile listen.
13. NEHRUVIANDOOM (2014)
In my opinion, this is DOOM's worst album, but it's far from terrible. Bishop Nehru raps on each track, while DOOM provides the beats, with a few verses here and there. At its worst, it's bland and forgettable, with some of the beats recycled from the Special Herbs tapes and some of Nehru's verses being nothing noteworthy. It's worth a shot, and there are standout tracks such as 'Om', but as whole it passes me by and leaves little impact.
14. Czarface Meets Metal Face (2018)
Years later, DOOM collaborated with hip hop trio, Czarface. It's an amazing album and the best thing DOOM has been involved in since BORN LIKE THIS. The production is so diverse and creative, with amazing beats from 7L like on 'Bomb Thrown' and 'Phantoms'. You can hear DOOM's age in his voice, but he still delivers some quality verses, fitting nicely into Czarface's sound, which makes sense considering how much inspiration they drew from DOOM.
15. Super What? (2021)
In October 2020, MF DOOM passed away. Before he died, he had worked on another Czarface collaboration which was released the following year, partly as a tribute to the legendary rapper.
It's quite a short record compared to their last collaboration, and DOOM is featured on far fewer tracks. It feels more like a Czarface album featuring DOOM rather than an equal collaboration. Regardless, there are still some great songs here, with some outshining the best of their last collaboration. I only wish DOOM had more time on the mic here. Overall, it's a solid release, and a bittersweet way to bookend the long and masterful discography of MF DOOM. Rest in peace, supervillain.