MF DOOM was like no other. He was your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper. The news of his death felt like the knockout blow of 2020, a year most of us were already keen to forget. There’s no better way to mourn than cherishing the incredible music he gave us; from the youthful days of KMD to the mastery of Madvillainy. However, if there’s one record that truly signifies the craft, humour, and outlandish creativity MF DOOM possessed, it’s 2004’s MM…FOOD. It may not be the unequivocal classic that stamps his name in the history books, but for my money it’s the most fun and nourishing project in his whole discography.
Everything about MM..FOOD feels effortless. MF DOOM doesn’t try too hard - in fact it feels like he’s barely trying at all. It’s pure, natural talent that cannot be taught, nor replicated. He defies the expectations of wordplay time and time again. The third verse of opening track “Beef Rap” is an exhilarating early example of his technique, as he brilliantly mocks the culture of beef rap within hip-hop: ‘to all rappers: shut up with your shutting up/and keep a shirt on, at least with a button up/yuck, is they rhymers or stripping males?/out of work jerks since they shut down Chippendales.’
I think most rappers knew better than to take on MF DOOM, simply because there’s no way they could have matched him for intricate wordplay. His casual delivery and calm demeanour was, and always will be, a welcome contrast to rappers who aim for as many rhymes per minute as possible. There’ll always be a place for songs like “Rap God”, if only for the novelty factor. Pair it up against “Vomitspit”, though, and it ironically feels like child’s play. In a way, MF DOOM was the Godfather of underground hip-hop.
When the wordplay is so sublime, it’s easy to forget MF DOOM’s other major skillset: production. The jazzy beats of MM..FOOD are comprised of joyful, humorous food samples that have a distinct ’90s feel to them. The instrumentals on “Hoe Cakes” and “Deep Fried Frenz” are delightful, and I will never get tired of the guitar loop on “Rapp Snitch Knishes” (I have had that song on repeat for quite literally hours on end). Truthfully, some of the skits scattered across the album leave me slightly fatigued, and it’s a relief when songs do re-enter. Perhaps that’s the point, and they certainly keep the album ticking along nicely, I just think the record would be no worse off without the middle interlude, where MF DOOM doesn’t feature (on vocals at least) for almost ten minutes.
A large part of my skepticism towards these instrumental interludes is purely because I love listening to MF DOOM rap. With every passing year, life finds further ways to test and challenge me. Music has always been there to bring me back from the depths, and there are very few things as thrilling and heartening than listening to MF DOOM in full flow. MM..FOOD may have its flaws, but for much of the time I couldn’t care less. It’s a go-to album for when I’m feeling low. It represents everything I adore about MF DOOM: the greatest supervillain of them all. When we grieve, we keep them alive. And supervillains never die.
8 out of 10
Playful and stylish, with flows so smooth they border on indecent, MM..FOOD is hip hop on another plane. It’s a joy to listen to. MF DOOM’s wordplay and delivery have that weightlessness of peak performance, like Muhammad Ali dancing circles around Cleveland Williams, or David Gilmour playing guitar in Pompeii. I can barely string together a ‘thanks, have a nice day’ at the supermarket and here’s DOOM with words tumbling out of him for minutes at a time with every single one fitting together like god made them specially for that purpose. It’s marvellous, and quite wonderful.
This display of talent is made all the better by the fact it’s presented with the technicolour kookiness of a Saturday morning cartoon. There are skits and samples aplenty - masterfully produced might I add - with the overall effect being of something effortlessly larger than life. Never does the record come off as grandiose or self-important; it’s just that good, and it’s just that much fun. Content to kick back in its own world, on its own terms, MM..FOOD comes across like a master at work rather than a masterpiece, and I’m grateful to have finally gotten acquainted.
8 out of 10
MM..FOOD is one of those albums I can enjoy in back to back (to back) listens. By the time I find myself in the cartoon mania of the closing moments of “Kookies”, I’m left wanting more, and from there it’s very easy to end up back in the middle, listening to ramblings about “Gumbo” all over again.
The other two have already done a far better job pointing to the impeccable wordplay across the album. Even after multiple repeats, lines have me smirking or just left in awe, but it’s the production that keeps things fresh and exciting for me. Be it the tiniest elements like the chasm of momentary silence in the first seconds of "Potholderz" and the hooky guitar that extends out across the track, or the cartoon aesthetic and loose narrative that stitches the whole affair together. “Hoe Cakes” uses the J. J. Fad sample at the centre of its arrangement, but the track has a tone entirely unlike the original. The whole album has distinct character coursing through it, and if you wanted to you could easily ignore the vocals and still come away loving it. You shouldn’t, but there’s enough here that it’s possible.
The central skits have proven divisive for us, but I’d miss them if they disappeared, as there are exceptional instrumentals in these tracks alone. These, combined with the cartoon decoration that weaves through the album, takes what could’ve been a collection of disjointed tracks, and produces a well-polished platter for the tracklist to sit upon.
This is a firm favourite of mine then, and one that’s stuck with me over the years. Doom’s passing was a huge loss to music, as he had a ‘touch it and turn it gold’ quality wherever he was involved. MM..FOOD showcases that quality as an album, and it’s one album I can’t recommend enough.
9 out of 10