Album review: 'Born Like This,' by MF Doom
It's probably unfair to expect a new MF Doom album to be a revelatory hip-hop listening experience. But ever since his solo debut, 1999's "Operation: Doomsday," that's what fans have been expecting from the man born Daniel Dumile.
It also doesn't help that his last official musical foray was 2005's excellent "Mouse and the Mask," where Doom spit his trademark off-kilter rhymes over beats prepared by DJ Danger Mouse.
"Born Like This" was originally slated for October 2008, but then got pushed back and will finally be released March 24. And as long as you're not expecting to be blown away, you'll be happy.
Born Like This does feature all-new lyrical work on Doom's part (except for the "Angels" track featuring Ghostface Killah, which has been making the illegal-download rounds since 2006), not to mention the best verse that Wu-Tang's Raekwon has turned in since HIS solo album way back in 1995.
Longtime fans, however, will likely complain that there's a bit too much recycling over the course of the album's 40 minutes. Three beats from Doom's "Special Herbs" instrumental series are used, along with J. Dilla's "Lightworks" beat and an opening medley that strings together several familiar Dilla tracks.
Another slight disappointment is the just-OK guest production from Jake One. Mr. Chop is listed as co-producer with Doom on several tracks as well, but the dark, funky jazz Chop whipped up so well on his recent "Sounds from the Cave" are nowhere to be found.
Doom, though, is in top lyrical form, particularly on the first track, "Gazillion Ear," and "Rap Ambush." As mentioned above, "Yessir!" will have Raekwon fans salivating for the now-nearly-mythical Cuban Linx II record, and Madlib drops a lazy piano-and-string loop for the lilting "Absolutely."
Doom can probably expect a little controversy, as well, over "Batty Boyz," a completely unnecessary anti-gay track that, unfortunately, contains some of the album's cleverest punchlines.
The rabid fanbase that snaps up any and all Doom-related work will find "Born Like This" a little too familiar. But after a few years in which rumors circulated that an imposter Doom had showed up at several live shows, hip-hop fans will be glad to have some new, genuine work from everyone's favorite supervillain.