Daniel Dumile, better known by his stage name MF Doom, is a US-based English rapper, songwriter, and record producer from Long Island, New York. Best known for his "super villain" stage persona and unique lyrics. As Zev Love X he formed the group KMD in 1988 with his younger brother DJ Subroc and another MC called Rodan. When Rodan left the group, Zev found another MC, Onyx the Birthstone Kid, to replace Rodan. Artists and repertoire representative Dante Ross learned of KMD through the hip hop group 3rd Bass and signed the group to Elektra Records.
In 1993, just before the release of the second KMD album, Black Bastards, Subroc was struck by a car and killed while attempting to cross the Nassau Expressway, and that same week the group was dropped from Elektra Records. The album was shelved before it was released due to its controversial cover art, which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or sambo character being hanged. After the death of his brother, Doom retreated from the hip hop scene from 1994 to 1997. In the late 1990s, he left New York City and settled in Atlanta. According to interviews with Dumile, he was also "recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him". Black Bastards had become bootlegged at the time, leading to Doom's rise in the underground hip hop scene.
In 1997, Dumile began freestyling incognito at open-mic events at the Nuyorican Poets Café in Manhattan, obscuring his face by putting a woman's stocking over his head. He meanwhile had taken on a new identity, MF Doom, patterned after and wearing a mask similar to that of Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom, who is depicted rapping on the cover of the 1999 album Operation: Doomsday. The album, in an earlier incarnation, would have been called The Super M.F. Villains according to an interview published in 1998 by hip-hop music culture magazine Ego Trip. Later versions of the mask would be based on a prop mask obtained from the film Gladiator. He wore this mask while performing and isn't photographed without it, except for very short glimpses in videos such as Viktor Vaughn's "Mr. Clean", "?", and in earlier photos with KMD. Doom released three singles on "Bobbito" García's Fondle 'Em Records, "Dead Bent", "Greenbacks" (1997), and "The M.I.C." (1998). In 1999 Fondle 'Em released MF Doom's first full-length LP, Operation: Doomsday, which included these singles and their b-sides, and additional tracks. Dumile had used the spelling variant "M.F. Doom" for the singles' releases, but thereafter changed this to MF Doom. Among the collaborators on these tracks were fellow members of the Monsta Island Czars collective (The M.I.C.), for which each artist took on the persona of a monster from the Godzilla mythos. Dumile went by the alias King Geedorah, a three-headed golden dragon space monster, modeled after King Ghidorah, the Toho movie monster who was a three-headed dragon that often battled Godzilla. Some of his appearances on the LP are as, and are credited to, this persona instead of that of MF Doom. Dumile would revisit this character later under various name-spellings.
In 2001, he began working with Prince Paul, co-producing MC Paul Barman's "Paullelujah!" with MikeTheMusicGuy and Phofo. In 2002, he appeared on the Sound-Ink's Colapsus collection, on a very hard to find track titled "Monday Nite at Fluid", featuring Kurious with production by King Honey, who also produced some tracks for Dumile's album Vaudeville Villain. Dumile has produced all the instrumentation tracks for his solo releases, with very few exceptions. Beginning in 2001, under the "Metal Fingers" moniker, Dumile began releasing his Special Herbs instrumentals series. Many of these beats can be heard as the instrumentation tracks throughout his body of work. A separate website catalogs for which tracks each instrumental has been used.
In 2003, Dumile released the King Geedorah album Take Me to Your Leader. Geedorah is credited as producer, but only appears as an MC on four tracks. The majority of vocal tracks feature guest MCs, and the album features several instrumental montages of sampled vocals from old movies and TV shows—a technique employed on most of Dumile's albums. Later in 2003, Dumile released the LP Vaudeville Villain under the moniker Viktor Vaughn (another play on Doctor Doom, whose "real name" is Victor von Doom). In 2004 he released a follow-up LP under the Viktor Vaughn moniker, Venomous Villain. Later in 2004, the second MF Doom album Mm.. Food was released by Minnesota-based label Rhymesayers Entertainment.
Doom's first commercial breakthrough came in 2004, with the album Madvillainy, created with producer Madlib under the group name Madvillain. Released by Stones Throw Records, the album was a critical and commercial success. MF Doom was seen by mainstream audiences for the first time as Madvillain received publicity and acclaim in publications such as Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Spin. A video for "All Caps" and a four-date US tour followed the release of Madvillainy.
Although still an independent artist, MF Doom took a bigger step towards the mainstream in 2005 with The Mouse and the Mask, a collaboration with producer DJ Danger Mouse under the group name Danger Doom. The album, released on 11 October 2005 by Epitaph and Lex, was done in collaboration with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and featured voice-actors and characters from its programs (mostly Aqua Teen Hunger Force). Danger Doom reached #41 on the Billboard 200. In 2005, Doom made an appearance on "November Has Come", a track on Gorillaz's 2005 album Demon Days, which reached #6 on the Billboard 200.
Doom produced tracks for both of Ghostface Killah's 2006 albums Fishscale and More Fish, it was also announced that the two were working on a collaboration album together as Doomstarks, then titled Swift & Changeable. Three tracks have been released since the album was announced, "Angels", which appeared on a Nature Sounds compilation in late 2006 (another version appears on Doom's 2009 album Born Like This), "Victory Laps" and "Lively Hood" (a 2015 Adult Swim single).
The Madvillain song, "Monkey Suite", first appeared on the Adult Swim/Stones Throw Records compilation Chrome Children, later it appeared on Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix. On May 30, 2006, Adult Swim released the Danger Doom Occult Hymn EP, a digital EP, and on July 6 the same year Lex released Danger Doom Old School EP. The latter includes previously unreleased remixes by Madlib and Danger Mouse. Kidrobot and Stones Throw released an 8" tall Madvillain toy available to coincide with the release of the Chrome Children CD/DVD which featured a clip of a live performance of Madvillain. He continued to work with Adult Swim, doing voice-over work as Sherman the Giraffe on Perfect Hair Forever, being the voice for The Boondocks advertisements and previews and hosting their Christmas Eve 2006 programming.
Following the success of Danger Doom, he signed a long term agreement with Lex in 2006. With the exception of a handful of guest appearances, there were no Doom releases between mid-2006 and the release of Born Like This. Doom's Born Like This was released on Lex Records on March 24, 2009. The album was Doom's first solo album to chart in the US