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MF DOOM exited this world as mysteriously as he emerged. The masked MC, who posed as a supervillain, was born Daniel Dumile in London, England, in 1971. After moving to the U.S., he got his professional start in 1988 under the moniker Zev Love X in the alt-rap trio KMD with his younger brother, DJ Subroc, and friend Onyx the Birthstone Kid. By 1993, Dumile’s world shattered when his older brother was killed trying to cross the Long Island Expressway. Dumile retreated, eventually reemerging as a new comic-book-inspired character: the masked marauder MF DOOM. He quickly became a freestyling force in New York City’s underground, initially wearing pantyhose over his face before he could afford his signature metal mask. His first record as DOOM, 1999’s Operation: Doomsday, introduced audiences to the artist’s brilliant rhyme patterns and penchant for obscure cultural references. His food obsessions were established with 2004’s MM...FOOD, where he blended his love of culinary arts with his passion for great lyrics. “Rapp Snitch Knishes,” with its delicious puns, punchlines, and rhythmic rhyme patterns, remains one of the greatest verbal exercises in hip-hop history. DOOM was a great lyrical sorcerer on his own, but he also played well with others. Two collaboration albums, 2004’s Madvillainy with Madlib and 2005’s The Mouse & the Mask with Danger Mouse solidified DOOM’s place in rap’s Hall of Fame. Dumile always cherished the mystique associated with his DOOM character, and that continued right up to the very end: he died on Halloween of 2020, but his death wasn’t announced until New Year’s Eve. It was one last trick from rap’s most prolific magician.

July 13, 1971
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