MF Doom is one of the most consistent, enigmatic and creative forces in hip-hop. From alias to alias, label to label, album to album, The Metal Face Villain has been consistently releasing quality hip-hop for years. Originally in KMD, MF Doom truly became an underground superstar with his solo debut Operation Doomsday. Always behind a metal mask, MF Doom grew to be one of the most respected producers and emcees in independent hip-hop. He produced songs for MC Paul Barnum, MF Grimm, Prophetix, and many more. As an emcee, he rocked mics with De La Soul, Louis Logic, Vast Aire, C Rayz Walz, and more. Through his alter ego, King Geedorah, he released Take Me To Your Leader. With his crew M.I.C. aka Monsta Island Czars, he released the classic Escape From Monsta Island LP. Other M.I.C. crew members include Jet Jaguar (MF Grimm), Rodan, Megalon, and more. The list of MF Doom collaborations is wonderfully long. Madvillainy was an LP by Madvillain, a side project where MF Doom rocked the mic and Madlib produced the beats. On Sound Ink Records, another alter ego emerged. Viktor Vaughn was another emcee who could rock the mic. Vaudeville Villain was an excellent LP filled with production by Rjd2, Heat Sensor, King Honey, and more. Every alias that MF Doom used, quality LPs followed. Viktor Vaughn now returns with VV:2 Venomous Villain on Insomniac Records. While Vaudeville Villain had some guest spots, Vaughn handled a majority of the microphone duties. VV:2 is filled with guest collaborations and this time, most of the production is handled by emcees from Insomniac Records. While VV:2 is a little too short and not as satisfying as Vaudeville Villain, it is a welcome addition to MF Doom’s long list of quality LPs.
MF Doom (or even Viktor Vaughn) does not make catchy hip-hop. The feeling, beat, the flow grabs the listener instead of a repeated hook. The first actual song Back End is an extremely cool sounding track with a boom-bap beat and a thick, funky bass line that comes in during the middle of the song. Vaughn rocks the microphone with an old-school flow but a new school energy: “…Dub it off your man / Don’t spend that 10 bucks / I did it off the advance / The back end sucks / It’s better than sitting in the crack den with mack eleven / Yelling at your fiends and friends to ‘Duck’…” Produced by System D-128 & Diplo, Back End also has some spaced out samples and very intense scratching. Fall Back / Titty Fat (produced by DiVinci) is a weird track that begins with a horror core beat. The beat does get very funky as it changes with some cool melodies that range from bluesy guitars to classical. Vik continues to blow listener’s minds, “…With mellow eyelids – tell no lies kid / These guys asking what your shell toe size is / Shields up dumb-dumbs /Where we come from / We dump it out from fun /And that’s no conundrum…” Towards the end, the tempo increases double time. It would have been cool to hear Vik rap over it.
Dope Skill (produced by DJ INC) features Carl Kavorkian. The hard-hitting beats are complemented by the looped horn. Viktor raps, “…Enough to piss barley / I had to tell em ‘Chill before you end up like Chris Farley’..” The classic beat gives this a feeling of instant gratification. Doom was born to rock this beat. Doper Skiller features Kool Keith, another emcee with a myriad of alter egos. Produced by DiVinci, Doper Skiller has an incredible beat that is both sinister and eerie. Without a chorus, both emcees make this a classic collaboration. Kool Keith adds his usual eccentric style to his verse: “… There’s a lot of ‘I murder you’ raps / With lame ass guys out of nowhere / Corny asses, I never heard of you cats / Guys like you mess up a lot of tracks…” Only Keith could pull this type of flow off. Basically, Doper Skiller is one of the most interesting songs on the LP.
In R.A.P.G.A.M.E. (produced by Session 31), Doom is hardly on the track. Vocally, the majority of the track is handled by Manchild (aka Mars Ill) and Iz Real. They even handle the hook: “…Word placement / Is this seat taken? / So sick of waiting / Y’all ain’t saying nathen / they expect payment for this level of greatness…” Although the light piano melody and boom bap beats make it a dope track, it feels like Viktor is a guest on his own song since he only has one verse. The scratches by DJ Sureshot are incredible dope.
Ode To Road Rage is cool song with a serious head-nodding production by Dub-L. Basically, the narrator is driving in the song and expresses emotions we have all felt at some time. Bloody Chain (produced by Dub-L) is a vivid story telling track, which features Poison Pen. The final song on the album is Pop Quiz (Bonus Extra Credit Remix) featuring Iz-Real. Originally on the Mic Planet compilation, this remix is actually MF Doom instead of Vik. The scratched vocal samples of Rakim and Kool Keith give this song an authentic and classic feel. Doom flips an excellent verse and even gives us a hook over the scratches.
Viktor Vaughn (aka MF Doom) deserves the respect of true hip-hop heads. While VV:2 Venomous Villain is a good album, it does not have the fresh sound, the sharp creativity, or the same replay value as Vaudeville Villain. One problem with the LP is the abundant amount of guest spots. Out of the 12 actual tracks, there are only 8 actual songs and 5 of them have guest spots. While the production on Vaudeville Villain had thicker rhythms and drum tracks, this latest LP has more of an electronic and spaced-out sound. Some listeners will not be able to distinguish MF Doom’s persona from Vik’s persona. Does it matter when both are dope? In a very astute way, MF Doom has used the resources well of the labels on his Viktor Vaughn projects. On Vaudeville, he used the Sound Ink producers and here, he uses producers from Insomniac Records. Not only has this broadened Vik’s style but it also makes the LP flow extremely well. For those fans who are expecting catchy hooks or sung choruses, this is not that album. This is an LP of straight spitting, but it’s still an essential addition to the MF Doom / Viktor Vaughn catalogue.
Viktor Vaughn aka MF Doom
VV:2 Venomous Villain (2004)
Genre: Underground Hip-Hop
Record Label: Insomniac Records