Operation Doom Discography-2006-2017: The Good, The Meh, and The Almost Classic
JJ Doom- I knew this album wasn’t for me early in the listening experience. The production style doesn’t fit. It is very post-Gorillaz (Damon Albarn guests along with Beth Gibbons from Portishead) in its cold robotic bass burbles. Jneiro Jarel is very good at his sound. You can play the wordless Viberian Sun pt. II and understand the value of talent on display. Doom more than matches it. The disjointed nature of the beats just puts him a little off. He knows the pocket of any soul sample better than he does this. All that being said he still rises to the occasion: he starts the last song (Wash Your Hands) with ” Ooh, she got a cool body, damn she got a cool body/What I’m a tell you what to do with your hands for?/Much less your dirty @$$ shoes on the dancefloor?” This is full on grouchy doom warning you about the dangers of drinking tap water and giving you odd takes on gender(“There they go feminizing men again/Then pretend they don’t know when we know it, xenoestrogen.” From GMO). If you enjoy Doom you should listen to it and you might like it more than I do if you are into a more slick alternative version of hip hop production.
NehruvianDoom-I was very excited to hear this collaboration. I am a fan of Nehru and would say he’s an underrated talent. Doom handles the production on all but one track so we are back in that soulful comfort zone. Bishop is a top notch rapper but his lack of theme gives the lyrics presented here a freestyle feel. To put it bluntly: he ain’t Doom. Any project that says DOOM and doesn’t feature enough verses from Doom isn’t great. This one isn’t great. The whole album is surprisingly sleepy and ultimately unimportant. While Jneiro Jarel has (what I would view as) talent oppositional to Doom’s Nehru and Doom make each other boring somehow.
The Almost Classic.
Every truly great rap artist with a reasonably sized career has an almost classic. Jay has Vol. 1, 2pac has his first album 2pacalypse Now, Pete Rock & CL Smooth have The Main Ingredient (the single best example of an almost classic). Definition: everything is right except something which is very wrong. You need to own Born Like This so you can hear J Dilla & Doom collaborate for two of the most gripping moments in the history of music. Gazzilliion Ear & Lightworks are deadly serious as the master mad scientists push one another: the beat twists and Doom adjusts. It’s not just Dilla, Absolutely is the crackling warm minimal vinyl Madlib groove at its finest. Jake One gives the biggest and best of his boom bap on the one minute and thirty second Ballskin where Doom burns the whole world down with his bars. The guests give the best of themselves and honestly I think Impress Stahhr Tha Femcee(Still Dope) outdoes Ghostface, Raekwon, Slug and anyone else not named DOOM.
The problem is the horribly wrong minded skit Batty Boyz which is unflinchingly homophobic and I just realized that I have a strange British version of the album which follows Batty Boyz with a doubling down on homophobia and transphobia. A song called Costume Foolery which is cut out of the US retail version but tucks in right behind Batty Boyz on my version. It really reaffirms that the skit wasn’t a fluke and Doom has problems with this subject, making a terrible gay voice and clowning man purses. I am of two minds on this: I don’t want to support anyone who makes it harder for oppressed communities or discriminates against any community but I also adore free speech. I don’t really believe in shutting down inappropriate conversation (I am not listening to Nazi rock bands do not take me to extremes). Doom starts the song CELLZ with a reading of Charles Bukowski’s Born Like This poem which gives this album it’s title. I think it is valuable to hear Bukowski read this in the context of Doom. The poem is about the mutating “sourful deadliness” that comes from a lack of good in the world or as Bukowski puts it an “unresponsive god.” The sharp edges of Doom stab us from that very place. Doom is not a villain for fun he is a response to deep scarring we should explore with him in all its ugliness. I’m sure he wouldn’t blame me for letting that ugliness dock points from the overall experience.
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Tagged Bishop Nehru, Born Like This, Damon Albarn, Ghostface Killah, Gorrillaz, Impress Stahhr Tha Femcee, J.J. Doom, Jneiro Jarel, M.F. Doom, MF Doom, NehruvianDoom, Operation Doom Discography, Raekwon, Slug
Operation Doom Discography 2000-2005
M.F. Doom was so active during this period of time I am going to have to separate this into stuff you need to hear and stuff you absolutely don’t.
King Geedorah-Take Me to Your Leader=Simply put one of the best produced independent albums ever. Doom is on the boards for every song producing, arranging, mixing and mastering and he is so utterly perfect that the skits will bring tears to your eyes. He drills down on sampling the Godzilla universe and finds soundscapes no one before or after could. The downside is Doom doesn’t rap on every song but he does rap on over half which is more than enough to carry it. Other voices put in admirable work (Hassan Chop on I Wonder and Mr. Fantastik on Anti-Matter). It is not nearly the cluttered hostile thesaurus fight of Monsta Island Czars.
MF Doom-Mm…Food=All but 3 tracks are produced by Doom. This was actually the first Doom album I heard and like all solo Doom ventures (I’ve encountered thus far) it surpasses its mission statement. This should be a fun exercise in food metaphors but he can’t himself One Beer is fire with lines like “Crooked eye mold nerd geek with a cold heart/probably still be speaking in rhymes as an old fart.” These songs are not jokes Deep Fried Frenz is a must hear peak into the diminishing relationships you experience on the way up. It is jam packed with quotable lines delivered with his trademark icey cool.
Viktor Vaughn-Vaudeville Villain & Venomous Villain=Upon first listen I really dug these albums. They took Operation Doomsday’s development of the villain character and pushed it meaner. Doom doesn’t produce any of the songs (the production style is less soulful and more jagged than other projects but that fits for the content) so he gets to let his pen fire. Venomous Villain has songs like Back End, Ode to Rage, and the startling story song Bloody Chain (where Poison Pen should have refused to rhyme after him). Vaudeville Villain has songs like The Drop (where he warns never trust no Kardashian back in 2003!), Raedawn, and G.M.C. All the songs listed are so unforgivingly lyrical so vividly actualized I couldn’t help but question if he was the utter evolution of Biggie able to threaten in ways that shake your bones switch up make you belly laugh with a silly reference, tell a crime story that pushes you to the edge of your seat and pulls you back by the end. These are not the known classics of Doom’s catalog but they are classics.
DANGERDOOM-The Mouse and The Mask=most reviews I saw for this framed it as a gag album. It comes out at the height of Adult Swim fanfare and is a perfect nerd fantasy. Danger Mouse is still in his daring try-anything-cool mind state and Doom still destroys all available space his voice fills. Too many funny crazy interesting lines to quote, and you get to hear Ghostface rhyme with Doom (I have a theory that Doom influence revived Ghostface and helped kick off his best period. Supreme Clientele drops a year after Operation Doomsday DANGERDOOM & Madvillain drop right around the Pretty Tony/Fishscale time period(Doom produced my favorite beat on Fishscale 9 Milli Bros).
Madvillain-Madvillainy=I expected the importance of this album but I was still awed by the structure of it. It reminds me of the debut album Pink Flag by the punk/art rock band Wire. All the songs are short and feed into one another. Neither Doom nor Madlib is even thinking about hooks. Lyrically I see Madvillainy as a cut off. He is now being reviewed by Spin and Rolling Stone so he backs away from the personal content of Operation Doomsday and stays in pocket just hammering away at the craft; dizzying verse after dizzying verse he is more a master of ceremony than ever but less the person we got to know. It’s not as bad a trade off as you would think (think Reasonable Doubt Jay v. Blueprint Jay).
MF EP(Doom and Grimm)=I really don’t have much affection for M.F. Grimm. The 2000 collaboration between the two is way too much Grimm who is a product of his time. In an interview he described the difference between the two of them very well. He said when they started rapping together Doom was on that conscious ish and he was rapping about breakin’ dudes legs. That is exactly the problem with Grimm. His ceiling as an MC is just over his hairline.
Monsta Island Czars-Escape From Monsta Island!=Easily my least favorite step on the journey. On The Mouse and The Mask Doom mocked his M.I.C. days calling them “Midgets Into Crunk” and they are that kind of joke. This album has 20 songs on it with just under an hour run time and no actual driving point. Only six tracks are produced by Doom including skits (under his moniker King Geedorah). My favorite of those beats is the rich and tense 1,2…1,2 but he doesn’t rap on it. This album did illuminate how special Doom is as an MC for me. One after another of this crew (King Caesar, Rodan, Gigan, Megalon, Kong, Spiega, it never ends) spat dour threatening verses with killer scrabble words dressed to impress and it was awful. On the one song he gets to himself Geedorah roars, muses, brags, is hilarious and distances himself from this mountain of average dudes he knows from around the way. This album illuminated the stark contrast between the average 90’s/early 00’s rapper and M.F. Doom.
On to the next phase!
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Tagged Danger Mouse, Dangerdoom, discography review, Doom, Doom Discography, Fishscale, Ghostface Killah, King Geedorah, M.F. Doom, M.F. Grimm, Madlib, Madvillain, Madvillainy, MF Doom, MF Grimm, Monsta Island Czars, NY Hip Hop, Pretty Tony, Supreme Clientele, The Mouse and The Mask, Viktor Vaughn
Song of the New Year-See You Down by King Chip
I would like to present King Chip with The Pretty Tony award for hidden gems. Pretty Tony is easily the second best solo album Ghostface Killah ever produced (I love me some Fishscale guys I’m just saying), the problem was he produced it at a time when Def Jam first forgot how to market rap music. When I saw it in my local record store (yes we used to have local record stores when I was young) I thought they were stocking bootleg mixtape compilations. It still stands as one of the truly perfect slept on non-limelight albums.
Likewise, Chips new album Clevelafornia arrived to a literal anti-buzz. Die hard fans of Chip (I am probably pretty close at this point) were tweeting things like “Chip has an album?!” He does and it’s the first important one of 2016. I’m not going to start trashing his label for not pushing him; Chip must be a marketing challenge. He doesn’t have a professorial teaching angle, not an honest to god gangsta rapper with a spellbinding flow. His voice is so gruff you can lose track of how brilliant he is with chorus’s. Every hook on Clevelafornia is proper. I love this song because as direct as it is about the culture of negativity that surrounds public figures it doesn’t wallow at all. This is still an anthem, one that plays in Chip’s head at award shows when his name is called and everyone wants to see him fall on his face. This song is in his mind playing, keeping his feet steady.
Don’t forget about Chip. Don’t sleep on something different when we as an audience spend so much time complaining about the people who sound the same.
Stream the song below:
Six Degrees of Drake
The widespread success of Drake has caused the spread of a new sound. Does anyone remember when Ghostface Killah started doing sing heavy hooks and it was controversial? People were mad and questioning how hardcore his music was…now being able to sing or fake sing the chorus (sometimes several on one song) is mandatory. Thank Drizzy (and Kid Cudi) for that. The spread of this new sound has created a lane for like minded artists and some of them have put out some pretty great B-movie level mixtapes.
Gerald Walker-Yesterday You Said Tomorrow
I will be honest I used to listen to Gerald Walker and just laugh. He sounded just like Drake and stayed sing rapping about how dumb people were for thinking he sounded like Drake, over Drake beats. I downloaded every tape and actually looked forward to new projects just to be able to chuckle over the situation.
While I was chuckling Gerald Walker was making leaps and bounds. It doesn’t hurt that he can get a Cardo beat any time he wants (5 out of 11 on this project) or that he can switch into singing quite naturally. This is the most refined project in the history of Gerald Walker. He now has a cool detached bop to his flow that really suits him and the years in the game to justifiably teaching lessons on perseverance and patience on the hypnotically soulful Cant Have It All At Once “you don’t realize your worth nobody gotta give you sh__ if you want it go out and work. See I know N’s who got deals who was blessed to take the wheel and drive to they own success but they didn’t…shout out to Pill.”
All the funny things I looked for: the off-putting confessions, baffling missteps, and direct Drake lifts are gone. In place is a mixtape that glistens with professional polish from the balanced new school groove production feel to the perfect vocal mixing. I’ve listened to the song Nerves a thousand times and hummed it to myself in the supermarket. I used to suck my teeth when I saw Gerald Walker featuring on a track, shake my head when he sung his own name like it was the two most beautiful words he could think of. Now I’m singing along, so he wins.
Download or stream Yesterday You Said Tomorrow below:
Kirko Bangz-Progression IV
Kirko Bangz is NOT someone ripping off Drake. If he raps over every Drake beat for the rest of his career that’s something Drizzy OWES HIM. Kirko is actually from Houston. Remember Houston? That place Drake lifted his sound from.
Kirko turns the autotune most of the way up and belts out some straight up somebody-rockin-knockin-the-boots type music. They Don’t Know is perfect Houston 2014 booty music and the best part of Progression 4 is that Kirko is not nearly as emotionally cagey as Drizzy. Drizzy is half emotional half public relations expert for his emotions so every admission feels heavily vetted, Kirko just drops real live weirdness. Don’t Matter To Me is one of my favorite songs of 2014 so far. It starts like this “I heard about you baby but I ain’t worried bout you baby. I know some N’s had you fore I got you but it’s my time I got you baby. I head about the sh__ you did with Slim Thug. I heard Propain could have hit you at the club and I heard Doughbeezy had you on the southeast but let me tell you bout me. Girl I wouldn’t care if you was a prostitute and you hit up every rapper that I ever knew.” Only Kirko would make a catchy sexy jam about how many nasty things you can have done and still love him. Or make a song about how much he wants to bang Rihanna where he talks about her monkey in the first line (Love Rihanna). At one point in this mixtape he says he gets so much sex from lovely ladies he doesn’t have to do his chores. I don’t even understand that but I love it. Sometimes Kirko feels better than Drake not just cause he’s authentically Houston and brings B.A. Houston guests (Propain, Killa Kyleon) but because his music feels like what Drake would do if he lost his mind when he was drunk. Tell me you wouldn’t listen to that?
Stream or download Progression IV below:
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Tagged autotune, booty music, Cardo, Drake, Gerald Walker, Ghostface Killah, Houston, Houston hip hop, Killa Kyleon, Kirko Bangz, mixtape reviews, Progression IV, Rihanna, Six Degrees of Drake, Slim Thug, Yesterday You Said Tomorrow