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MF Doom - Mm..Food

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Artist: MF Doom

Album: Mm..Food

Label: Rhymesayers

Review date: Jan. 3, 2005

MF Doom, he of four albums in 2004 – Madvillainy with Madlib, VV2: Venomous Villain as Viktor Vaughn, Special Herbs 5 & 6, and MM…Food? – can hardly be called lazy with such a prodigious output, but Long Island’s own supervillain has stretched himself thin. MM…Food?, loosely themed around everyone’s favorite of the four basic human needs, has all the staples of an MF Doom record: witty rhymes, simultaneous funky and cheesy beats, oddball samples and plenty of sampled dialogue from old Fantastic Four episodes. But although the recipe is familiar, the album is fattened with reheated beats, leftover songs, somewhat underseasoned lyrics, and a few tracks that leave nothing but a bitter aftertaste. Doom is too talented to not put something hot on the plate, but especially after the stopgap VV2, MM…Food? had the villain’s fans salivating for a true feast; instead, all they get is the satisfying but empty calories of fast food. And I think that’s enough food metaphors for now.

Madvillain b-side “One Beer” (a reuse of the Jaylib instrumental “No Games” that would have been remembered more fondly as a b-side) and Molemen production “Kon Queso” (formerly known as “Yee Haw,” and growing stale a year after its first release) have been previously released as they appear here, but the recycling only begins there. True Doom disciples will recognize several former Special Herbs instrumentals scattered throughout the album, often to disappointing effect: “All Spice,” for example, worked much better behind Nas’ “I Can” on the Internet-only mashup Nastradoomus than it does for the middling “Kon Karne.” And then there’s the middle of the album, an instrumental graveyard.

Although Doom is obsessive enough a sound collector to almost make his collages of radio, movie, and TV dialogue seem fresh, he makes a major miscalculation on interrupting Mm…Food? just as it is picking up momentum for a 4-track block of “special recipes,” or as most of us call them, skits. Some excellent beats are wholly wasted here under dialogue clip after dialogue clip, sometimes amusing (Rakim would enjoy the BBC clip on “edible rappers”), but impossible to listen to repeatedly.

For an MF Doom release, there’s far less of Doom than one would expect: “Guinnesses,” an attempted showcase for unimpressive female emcees Angelika and 4ize, only features Doom singing the hook, a strange choice given his disdain for choruses. Count Bass D production “Potholderz” has the bassline of the year and two dope D verses – “Looked her up and down, said, hmm…too much makeup / Poor music taste, ten years from being grownup / Rappers don’t blow up, heads do” – sandwiching Doom’s middling 16 bars. And though the ridiculous guitar line of “Rapp Snitch Knishes” makes for one of Doom’s best productions on the record, guest Mr. Fantastik still steals the show again.

The songs where Doom finds a concept and sticks to it are still fatter than half and half: his wordplay around a vocal sample on playa instruction manual “Hoe Cakes” makes Cam’ron’s “Oh Boy” sound like tiddlywinks, “Kookies” takes the females-and-food analogy into cyberspace, and “Deep Fried Frenz” sandwiches letter-perfect misanthropy (“I found a way to find peace of mind for years and left the hell alone / turn a deaf ear to the cellular phone”) between generous slices of Ronnie Laws’ “Friends and Strangers” and Whodini’s “Friends.” When MF Doom takes the time to plot and scheme it, no idea is too outlandish, no beat too unorthodox, and much of MM…Food? is the work of a master chef cooking up some marvelous shit. However, masters get held to a higher standard. Even Wolfgang Puck couldn’t get away with serving grilled cheese, no matter how many he made in a year.

By Josh Drimmer

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