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Viktor Vaughn - Venomous Villain

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Artist: Viktor Vaughn

Album: Venomous Villain

Label: Insomniac

Review date: Sep. 23, 2004

Besides possessing more personalities than Cybill , iron-masked MC Daniel Dumile (a.k.a. Zev Love/MF Doom /King Geedorah/Viktor Vaughn) is becoming the world champion of free-associative, paranoid rap. Madvillainy exposed Dumile’s Viktor Vaughn character to a wider audience and last year’s Vaudeville Villain made many critics’ year-end lists.

Venomous Villain bills itself as a sequel to Vaudeville, but sonically the album has more in common with the Madlib collaboration. The disc’s stoned, futuristic breaks are accompanied by obligatory video game blips and scratchy funk guitar - sounds familiar to most MF Doom/Viktor Vaughn obsessives. After an interminable sample-laden intro (we get it Doom, movie dialogue is cool) the SuperVillain makes his appearance. Instantly we’re dropped into a graphic-novel of urban decay, with Vaughn serving as the narrative voice. Is he really a monster, or just misunderstood? It’s always easy to fall for Viktor Vaughn’s laconic, indigo-hued delivery and blackly humorous lyrics. The track “Back End“ is a perfect example of the Viktor Vaughn style: “The Feds are at the door / Oh it’s just FedEx / I thought I heard walkie-talkies but must’ve been those redneck neighbors of mine," he spouts. "They’re fucking with the CB / And we’re in the spot watching Cops on TV.” It's this kind of scattershot mental riffing that has won the rapper a growing leigon of fans.

When he comes up for air, the album’s crew of guest producers hit hip-hop-noir overdrive. There’s a remarkable continuity from track to track, and its obvious those contributing to Venomous Villain are long-time fans of Dumile’s work. The beats and FX on the cut “Doom on Vic” scuttle between the speakers like biomechanical cockroaches. Shudders of pitched-down guitar lifted from a famous ‘70s hard rock song streak like rainwater across a dirty brownstone window. Not every move is gold; the scratch-happy gymnastics on the outro of “Dope Skiller” are superfluous. But for the most part, Venomous Villain’s foreboding instrumental swells and crusty beats are transfixing and enjoyably tongue-in-cheek.

The appearance of guest MCs such as fellow freaks Kool Keith and Carl Kavorkian don’t get in the way, even adding a dynamic counterpoint to Vaughn’s reptilian delivery. Only “Bloody Chain” featuring Poison Pen seems out of place. He’s a gifted rapper, but the gangsta weight he wields threatens to unmake the comic-book universe Vaughn and associates have labored to create.

Venomous Villain is not the shark-jumping incident that many expect from Doom anyday now. It's just highly listenable album by a gifted urban poet. While it hasn’t been re-defined, the SuperVillain character is as engaging as ever. And sucker MCs are on notice - as Viktor Vaughn states on the track “R.A.P. Game”: “This is an editorial funded by Rhymers Against Phony Gangsters and Mainstream Evil.”

Not a bad manifesto.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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