This week, we’re looking at DOOM’s third solo album, Vaudeville Villain, released under yet another pseudonym–Viktor Vaughn.
Right off the bat, we can gather from the title that DOOM is back on his villainous shit. Coming off of Take Me To Your Leader, released under the name King Geedorah, really showcased DOOM’s production. Vaudeville Villain, on the other hand, is produced entirely by Sound-Ink record cable members. The production is superb–DOOM or not. Tracks go from sound like the soundtrack to a comic book in the title track, to the spacey sounding of “Raedawn”. There isn’t a single beat on this album that I dislike.
When it comes to DOOM’s lyrical content, I feel like he truly steps his villain game up. Vaudeville Villain has some of the darkest lines and themes yet. Unlike Operation: Doomsday, which had the listener questioning whether or not DOOM was in fact villainous, or merely misunderstood, Vaudeville Villain clearly puts DOOM in the position of a villain. Of course the pseudonym Viktor Vaughn was the true name of the Marvel super villain Doctor Doom. Yet, despite this being the most animated of DOOM’s four prior pseudonyms (Zed Love X, MF DOOM, King Geedorah), the album doesn’t pull any punches with it’s villainy.
There are a couple tracks that really stand out to me. The first, although a stand out, isn’t a stand out for good reason. In “Let Me Watch”, DOOM trades verses with artist Apani B., discussing a relationship and it’s troubles between the two. Although I don’t find anything fundamentally wrong with the track, I just feel that it doesn’t in the theme of the album. I actually really love Apani B.’s voice and lyrical ability, I just don’t see it as a fitting track.
The other two tracks that stand out to me are two of my favorites on the entire album–“Open Mic Nite Pt. 1 & 2”. It’s interesting that DOOM, seemingly at first, breaks from the evil super villain theme of the album and into the setting of an open mic night at some bar/club. The promoter (Lord Sear), the verses by Brother Sambuca, Rodan, Louis Logic, AJ Ready Wright and Creature, granted yes, the verses may not be anything spectacular that stands out, meld together to create a really grate homage to old school hip hop. Each verse in “Open Mic Nite Pt. 1 & 2” is unique and different from the verse it precedes and follows.
In may ways it feels like DOOM’s lyrics are much more accessible in Vaudeville Villain than in any other album prior. In his KMD days, DOOM’s lyrics were very African-American centric and empowering, skirting with the term “conscious”. On Operation: Doomsday DOOM’s lyrics were often very abstract and took multiple listens to understand. This is, of course, on of the appealing things about DOOM’s entire discography. As King Geedorah, DOOM didn’t rap enough throughout the album to really go one way or another. On the tracks he did, DOOM seemed to move away from the abstract nature of his rhymes an in the direction of the more accessible that Vaudeville Villain displayed.
It may be the these more accessible lyrics that make the album one of DOOM’s greatest successes. So far, throughout DOOM’s discography, covering his two albums with KMD, Mr. Hood and Black Bastards, as well as Operation: Doomsday and Take Me To Your Leader, Vaudeville Villain has to be my favorite thus far. Tracks like “Vaudeville Villain”, the title track, and “Salvia”, exemplify DOOM’s skills and ability to create truly captivating, enthralling hip hop.