Hot on the heels of last year’s Atmosphere Madness breakdown, the SOUTHSIDERS crew are back with another custom-made, guaranteed-argument-starter. And this time, we turn our attention to the one and only metal faced villain: DOOM (aka MF DOOM, aka Viktor Vaughn, aka King Geedorah, aka… well, you get the idea).
From 1999’s Operation: Doomsday to 2012’s Key to the Cuffs, the bracket covers all collaborations, monikers and side projects. Naturally, we couldn’t include everything (the KMD projects, for example) but this covers
all most of the heavy hitters.
After a night of drunken revelry, animated debate and gnashing of teeth, ‘Vaudeville Villain‘ emerged from the aptly-titled The Villain bracket to claim victory. Bit of an upset? Read our analysis below – and be sure to download and complete your own bracket – to find out what each of our writers made of the result. Enjoy!
One of my favourite aspects of DOOM’s music is the variety and range in his discography – Viktor Vaughn speaks to the inner hip-hop head in all of us, Madvillain feels like high art, and DANGERDOOM is flat out hilarious.
And this divergence spilled into the DOOM Madness conversation as everyone vociferously defended their interpretation of Daniel Dumile’s work. For me, the elimination of ‘Guv’nor’ in the first round was a cruel blow, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see the overall success of selections from the Vaudeville Villain album (my personal favourite DOOM project).
With that said – and to underline how difficult certain decisions were – I’m not entirely convinced ‘Vaudeville Villain’ (the titular track from the aforementioned album of the same name) was a worthy winner over Madvillainy’s ‘Figaro’ – but hey, you gotta go home sometime!
Really, I am just grateful for the whirlwind trip through this GOAT-level emcee’s catalogue with a group of hip-hop fans who take the craft as seriously as I do.
The best part of these nights is seeing the purely human reaction that this music elicits, allowing you that youthful feeling that can only be described as: ‘holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-how-dope-this-is…”
I entered this exercise with a good understanding of DOOM’s back catalogue and his multifaceted rhyme scheme. Unlike most other artists, I rarely struggle to distinguish which DOOM song or album I prefer when comparatively jousting, so I knew this would not be as difficult for me as the previous Atmosphere bracket was. This is not a slur on DOOM’s name, I have perhaps over-analysed his creative output for the better part of a decade now.
That being said, I was none the wiser about what the group would collectively choose as it’s definitive winner. As expected the group discussion threw up some interesting points for and against but unlike the previous Atmosphere bracket, I did not feel compelled to revisit any specific DOOM album to re-evaluate my choices.
My own bias/ personal preference had already premeditated what song would be crowned champion, this being ‘Great Day’ from 2004’s Madvillainy. ‘Great Day’ is an impeccable example of what an emcee and a producer are capable of when they are both on their respective a-games. The amount of different techniques DOOM deploys in this barely two minute song is staggering. Madlib also dawns his Yesterday’s New Quintet cap functioning as a jazz ensemble, albeit with help from Stevie Wonder through a superb sample. The way Madlib chopped this record, setting the metal-faced villain up with the alley-oop to rap in this free-form fashion continues to astonish me. A near perfect song off of a near perfect album.
The group’s overall choice of ‘Vaudeville Villain’ pleased me. The album Vaudeville Villain and several tracks off of this album, all too often in my opinion, get overlooked when discussing the highlights of MF DOOM’s consummate career. We are introduced to his alter-ego Viktor Vaughn for the first time – a scientist and rapper from another dimension in which hip-hop is banned. The opening alliterative bars allude to the loose time-travelling plot of the album while ‘Viktor’ uses this verse to define his character. An out-of-this-world opening to a crowning achievement in this villain’s discography.
I’ve never went ‘off’ Doom, but I needed to reset my listening ahead of this particular Madness. Since discovering Doom’s melodic brilliance on Op:Doomsday I was certain he’d be in my rotation for as long I could listen. However, and this proves how much fun a potential Wu-Tang or other ‘group’ Madness would be, I confess to losing track of his many personas over the years. The week before we met I listened to as much DOOM as I could handle. I gobbled up every scrap of Mm.. Food and I breathed in the cold air of Viktor Vaughn. And it did not disappoint.
The day itself was a blast: a great session with plenty booze and plenty debate. Like Thomas, I was sad to see ‘Guv’nor’ go out in the first round, but I was pleased to see so many from Op:Doomsday and VV make it through. One of the other high points for me was seeing ‘Let Me Watch/ Can I Watch?’ ft. Apani B make it to the final DOOM bracket. I know the other Craig agrees!
I’m not quite as fanatical about Madvillainy as the other guys, but to be honest I can’t argue with either ‘Figaro’ or ‘Accordion’ vying for the top spot. But let me defend the title-track of VV winning outright. First, it made it through three rounds (vs. Borin’ Convo, Gas Drawls, Kon Karne) with unanimous votes. It also saw off ‘Sofa King’, another uber-popular song of the day. The only other song to go on as strongly was ‘Accordion’, which itself lost out to ‘Figaro’ for a spot in the final.
Not only this but, for me, there is no other song quite as DOOM-defining. It’s energetic, maniacal, silly, sick, and smooth as fuck.
I was left feeling pretty pleased, more so with the fact that I’ve fallen back in love with DOOM’s music after a brief hiatus.
Compared to our last Madness (Atmosphere), with DOOM, I felt I knew all the intricacies and subtleties of the subject matter. With such an extensive, varied and frankly brilliant back catalogue I was interested to find out which song would be triumphant.
Intuition would have said that the winner would be picked from either Madvillainy, or perhaps Mm…FOOD, so I was surprised that the eventual winner was Viktor Vaughn from the Vaudeville Villain album. To give it its dues, DOOM (or should I say Viktor) delivers across this alias and is perhaps the most under appreciated record in his discography. Sure it doesn’t have the cult status of Madvillainy or the comic book capers of DANGERDOOM, but what it does bring to the table is dark beats and some of DOOM’s best storytelling.
My individual brackets would have paired Accordion with Meat Grinder and Beef Rapp against Sofa King with Meat Grinder clinching ultimate victory. To me, Meat Grinder is peak DOOM and encapsulates his genius. Across a mere two minutes and 13 seconds, he proceeds to drop an outrageously dense rhyme scheme which blows me away each and every time I hear it.
As with the previous event, arguments raged on into the wee hours of the morning, fuelled by copious volumes of beer, whisky and pure passion for the medium we all love. When’s the next one…?
Just like Luda, I’m back for the first time and what a first time it was! I was blessed to be asked to join this round table of rap aficionados for DOOM Madness, an artist who I’ve held very close to my heart since my school years as he was one of the first underground rappers I got into. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive at first, I’m not as much of a ‘hip hop’ head as I once was and I was worried that I would perhaps feel out of my depth with the discussion at times, but all the guys welcomed me with open arms for what was an incredibly enjoyable evening of music.
Having never experienced a ‘Madness’ before I was intrigued to see what the forum for discussion would be like for each pairing and after it took us almost the full evening to just get through one bracket, I knew we were in for the long haul! There was plenty of good discussion, some notable early exits for a few of my favourites disappointed me such as ‘Raedawn’ and ‘Potholderz’, but I was heartened to find that the room was pretty much in agreement that the Viktor Vaughn led Vaudeville Villain album was the unsung hero of the DOOM catalogue.
All in all, it was a spectacular night, many cans were crushed and whiskey supped before the brackets reached their pinnacle. The conversation covered everything DOOM and beyond and even got heated at points when Jason got on his soapbox to wax lyrical about his undying love for Kung Fu Kenny – I’m surprised he doesn’t kiss a poster of him every night before he goes to bed – and it was probably one of the most fun nights I’ve had in a long time. The bracket eventually pitted Figaro against Vaudeville Villain and an unenviable decision had to be made with good ol’ Viktor taking the top spot, but let’s be honest, in any mask, Mr Dumile keeps us coming back for more!