Friday, 6 July 2007

Album Review: MM... Food

Originally released in 2004 but deleted for the best part of two years, the re-release of Mm... Food is extremely welcome.

Perhaps MF Doom's finest record, it's an album with no pretence that harks back to the days when hip hop artists were interested in earning respect for their skills alone ("It's about the beats / not about the streets and whose food he about to eat").

"Operation Doomsday complete" we hear during the opening sound collage, away from his space quest laser fest as King Geddorah and the dysfunctional gangsta whimsy of Victor Vaughn, here Doom wants nothing more than to score some clever points with quirky one-liners over tight beats: the two foundations that hip hop was originally built upon.

There are only four guests invited to contribute lyrically, Count Bass D, Angelika, 4ize and Mr. Fantastik. The little-known Mr Fantastik delivers some incredible lyircs on Rapp Snitch Knishes ("true to the ski mask, New York's my origin / play a fake gangster like an old accordion"), while Count Bass D's lines on Potholderz are easily the equal of Doom's ("I strive to be humble lest I stumble / Never sold a jumbo or copped chicken wings in mumbo sauce / Tyson is a Fowl holocaust"). Sadly, Angelika and 4ize struggle to match the same standard on the album's one tepid track, Guinnesses.

The four-track intermission - Poo-Putt Platter, Fillet-O-Rapper, Gumbo and Figleaf-Bi-Carbonate - contains clips of TV, radio chopped up over exquisitely sliced beats and samples. It's the classic hip hop collage, but rarely is it done this well. Dumping four sound collage skits back-to-back in the middle of the album is a daring move and only someone as creative as Doom could pull it off. It's clear that Doom learned his proficiency with skit arrangements from Prince Paul, but Doom is now the master.

With the exception of the Madlib-produced Madvillainy left-over, One Beer, and the PNS-produced Yee Haw - here recorded as Kon Queso - and Potholderz, Doom controls all the production on Mm Food. The stuttery Count Bass D production on Potholderz darts back and forth over a phenomenal bass line. The 70s Blue Note funk on Vomitspit is up there with Doom's finest production work, and turning the Whodini sample on Deep Friend Frenz from a feel-good song into a bitter tale of betrayal is inspired ("You could either ignore this advice, or take it from me / Be too nice and people take you for a dummy").

The scratch and sniff packaging, live DVD, stickers and Burlesque Design poster make this an unmissable purchase, even if you picked it up when it was released initially. Doom describes himself as "On his own thrown, the boss like King Koopa." He could have described himself more simply, for MF Doom simply is hip hop.

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