by greg dybec

The man behind the mask has finally reappeared onto a hip-hop scene that has been awaiting his return. The former MF DOOM has seemed to have dropped the first two initials and simplified it down to just DOOM. His latest Album, Born Like This, is the rapper’s first piece of work after an ongoing hiatus, and rumors that claimed impostors were performing for him at his shows. But hey, it is 09, everybody’s favorite villain has finally returned. However, there is much to be said about this interesting album, which at times resembles a thrown together mixtape, and has a surprisingly gloomy undertone to it.

Artist: DOOM feat. Raekwon
Song: Yessir!
Artist: DOOM
Song: Gazillion Ear (Thom Yorke Remix)
Artist: DOOM
Song: Ballskin

We all know the lasting impression that an album that doesn’t quite meet expectations leaves on a listener. Sorry, let me re-phrase that. We all know the lasting depression that an album that doesn’t quite meet expectations leaves on a listener. Though, truthfully I don’t think this album should be the cause of DOOM fans to start prescribing to Prozac or start seeing a therapist. I’m not sure I believe that it was quite the disappointment that some believe it to be. Nor do I feel that I have received all that I had intended to from this album.

Personally, I have always been a huge MF DOOM fan. I mean, who wouldn’t? He has always been a mask wearing enigma, spilling his fascinating guts through albums of bizarre unmatchable lyrics, witty punch lines, and awesome originality. To me he has always been a powerful critic of the unfortunate path that rap is going down. To put it simply, he has always purveyed pure and real hip-hop.

This aspect of him has not at all changed on Born Like This, however the album does lack the usual comedic and laid back feel that DOOM usually brings to the table. Born Like This has a much grimmer and somber attitude to it, which is something that most DOOM followers are not totally familiar with. This of course should not scare anybody away from this record that does have plenty of positives.

The albums title comes from the Charles Bukowski poem, “Dinosauria, We”. This poem is recited in its entirety on the track “Cellz.” It is also a treat that the late great J Dilla continues to receive posthumous credit as the producer for both “Lightworks” and “Gazzillion Ear”. Madlib, who has plenty of experience with DOOM, contributes by producing the track “Absolutely”. Even Wu-Tang’s own Raekwon gets his say with a solo performance on the track “Yessir!”. While Ghostface Killah can be found rapping along side DOOM on “Angelz” under the name Tony Sparks. This was supposed to be a prelude to a Doom/Ghostface collaboration album, but who knows what is true anymore these days?

So yes, sometimes this album does seem like it was just thrown together in order to finally get Doom back on the scene. Especially, when several tracks do not actually feature DOOM rapping on them, and a third of the tracks last for less than two minutes. All in all I think it’s safe to say that Born Like This is a tricky album. At one moment it leaves a lot to be desired and the next it is quenching my thirst for piercing rounds of Doom Rhymes ripping apart my eardrums.

So maybe it wasn’t the villainous comeback that some expected, but at the end of the day it’s still DOOM, rapping breathlessly letting us know that it is the same eyes behind the metal mask. At the end of the track “That’s That” Doom breaks out into song and asks listeners, “Can it be I stayed away too long? Did you miss these rhymes when I was gone?” Well I did miss them, and I suppose I’m satisfied for the time being. Let’s just hope the masked man has something more planned for the near future.

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