FEATURE – MF DOOM DISCUSSION: WEEK THREE – A LOOK AT “Operation: Doomsday”

Night and day. KMD’s Mr. Hood and Black Bastards are night and day from Operation: Doomsday. There’s new themes, new gimmicks, new and multiple characters. Hell, it’s like he’s…another person.

Operation: Doomsday

I couldn’t help but listen to Operation: Doomsday without thinking about the context of the album. A couple years prior to the album’s release, Zev Love X was homeless and living on the streets of NYC. Dude was straight up homeless. He left hip hop behind. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been for DOOM. I can’t help but seeing that this time in his life greatly effected the lyrics on Operation: Doomsday. There’s a few things that really admire about this album–DOOM being meta and his mind-blowing lyricism, the concept, and the listener’s struggle.

On the more analytical level, what stood out most to me had to be DOOM’s lyrical approach. Even from the first track (that isn’t a skit) DOOM flat out spit insanity. The first lines of “Doomsday”:

I used to cop a lot
But never copped no drop

is a baffling entendre. This line can be interpreted in half a dozen ways. This is clearly DOOM’s intentions, especially considering this is the opening line. Tracks like “Doomsday”, “Hey!”, and especially “Rhymes Like Dimes,” are full of wicked entendres. I think it’s fair to say that DOOM is an artist you could listen to for the rest of your life and pick up something new in his lyrics with every listen.

What really struck me on my recent listen to Operation: Doomsday was how meta DOOM is at times. The first of these lines that really caught my attention was from “Doomsday” where DOOM spits,

I wrote this one in B.C. D.C. O-section
If you don’t believe me, go get bagged and check then
Cell number 17, up under the top bunk

What makes this line meta is how DOOM is addressing writing the actual track he’s currently spitting. Supposedly written during a stint in B.C. D.C. (Baltimore County Detention Center), “Doomsday” lays a sturdy and deep foundation for everything that’s DOOM to come. Now, this is where the enigmatic side of DOOM comes out as well. First, to address the context behind this line, I can’t seem to find a definitive answer as to whether or not DOOM was actually incarcerated at some point in his life or not. Being homeless could have lead to an arrest or two, logically. DOOM, however, gives us the answer to whether or not he’s bullshitting for the sake of rhymes–DOOM says go get pinched and if you land yourself in cell number seventeen, check under that top bunk for “Doomsday” lyrics.

Other instances of DOOM being meta comes in the track, “The Finest”, a track shared with Megalon AKA Tommy Gunn.

Come on stay, I wrote this rhyme on my born-day
Remind me of the same style I flipped on “Hey!”

DOOM references not only the current track he’s spitting, but his flow on “Hey!”–a song eight tracks passed “The Finest”. These meta lines are some of my favorites. Those, in combination with those wicked entendres, DOOM’s lyricism on *Operation: Doomsday* is easily the album’s most enduring quality.

DOOM

When it comes to Operation: Doomsday, it’s hard to argue that it’s not a concept album. Although it may not tell a singular story throughout and, more times than not, tends to focus on a central theme–this misunderstood super villain. I can understand why a lot of people can’t get into DOOM because of the skits. Granted this is the gimmick behind the concept album, that it must be listened to completely though. In that case the the skits really aid to the progression of the album. This is especially seen on “?” and in “Hero vs. Villain (Epilogue)” where DOOM is stopped from world domination. In “?”, the beginning skit,

My servants began to forge what was to become
The most dreaded costume on the face of the earth
The last thing to fit was the mask
Will it conform to my twisted features in comfort

the creation of this super villain alter ego is explored, as well as the creation of the disguise–his mask of course. In “Hero vs. Villain (Epilogue)” the skit does much the same, in that it furthers the progression of the albums story.

I really enjoy a great concept album. I’ve always been to type of person to listen to albums straight through and when this is done with *Operation: Doomsday* it can be a really magical thing.

The last part I wanted to touch on was that of the listener’s struggle. This might not have been something you, fellow listener, experienced unless you’re aware of the albums context, DOOM’s backstory prior and were aware with KMD and Subroc’s death. Remember, before *Operation: Doomsday* was recorded, DOOM was homeless. Think about how people interact with the homeless. People can either be really humane to them, offering them food, money, shelter in some cases, while at the same time people can be very evil to them–think Bumfights and people verbally assaulting them. DOOM takes the good/evil struggle to another level in *Operation: Doomsday*; here we have this… person, this rapper, MF DOOM, and we can’t really put a finger on whether or not he’s a super villain or a superhero.

Think about Batman. Batman was often confused as a villain despite being the best thing that ever happened to Gotham City. DOOM and Batman have this same struggle. With Batman though, it’s quite evident that he’s, in fact, a superhero. With DOOM, however, it’s not as crystal. DOOM doesn’t really do much that makes us see him as a villain. The skits imply that he is in fact a villain, and do more to perpetuating this idea than DOOM’s lyrics do. In “?” when DOOM raps about his brother:

Like my twin brother, we did everything together
From hundred raka’at salats to copping butter leathers
Remember when you went and got the dark blue Ballys
I had all the different color Cazals and Gazelles
The “SUBROC” three-finger ring with the ruby in the “O”, ock
Truly the illest dynamic duo on the whole block
I keep a flick of you with the machete sword in your hand
Everything is going according to plan man

we can really see that DOOM isn’t really a villain. That last line,

Everything is going according to plan man

with the proper context, is quite powerful. We feel sadness and empathy for DOOM. At the same time, he’s a super villain, who we’re not supposed to root for. The final track, “Hero vs. Villain (Epilogue)”, examines this from an outside perspective, much like the listeners, since the track is spit by E. Mason and not DOOM.

There is, of course, the other way people interact, or rather not interact, with the homeless–ignoring them all together. DOOM, however, will not be ignored. DOOM takes these basic human interactions towards the homeless and incorporates them into his lyrics and addresses them at other rappers. DOOM makes us decided for ourselves as to who the man behind the mask is. Is the mask a way of hiding himself from the cruelness of the world or rather a way to reinvent himself. Looks like DOOM left us with another entendre, something else to ponder.

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