The Mouse and the Mask

Epitaph Records

MF Doom has spent the last few years as a paragon of the “underground” rap scene. A long-time member of the scene from his earliest days as Zev Love X, one half of KMD (Kausin’ Much Damage), Doom has come from a place of almost zero recognition to being not far from a mainstream push, which would at least be very interesting from a sociological outlook. After releasing three albums in 2004, including the highly-lauded Madvillainy, his output has continued apace. Dangerdoom: The Mouse and the Mask is his long-awaited collaboration with Danger Mouse, who’s had similar upward movement after his infamous Grey Album project, which can be credited with boosting record sales for both artists involved: Jay-Z and the Beatles.

There are three characteristics of this album that point toward the possibility of a mainstream “push.” First, this is the first Doom album to be widely distributed in stores upon release. Second, it is the first to have a song with an actual hook (“Old School,” featuring Talib Kweli), which is a primary requirement for radio play. Third is the fact that Epitaph, which typically does not mess with hip-hop and has generally kept a very low commercial profile in recent years, saw fit to advertise the album on TV.

Even as the Cartoon Network expresses mild concern at the use of so many of its trademark voices from the “[adult swim]” franchise, they continue to air the commercials for it. Ironic that the first rap album to be advertised commercially on a Time-Warner TV channel would be that of the enigmatic Doom and the industry saboteur Danger Mouse. The voiceover actors recorded their parts fresh for the album, so it all blends better than, say, if their voices had been sampled. (Meatwad’s flow sounds like Lord Quas’.)

Perhaps most important is the presence of top-shelf MCs like Kweli, Cee-Lo (“Benzie Box”) and Ghostface Killah, aka Pretty Toney (“The Hair”). Dangerdoom may be the album that finally puts Doom over the top, as far as wider recognition. Obviously, MCs can’t say they’d like to be well-known, but why can’t a good man make the money he has coming? Is there anything more American? No.

Epitaph: http://www.epitaph.com/

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