Operation: Doomsday


Daniel Dumile started the ’90s on the verge of golden era greatness with his group KMD, and ended a heartbreaking and frustrating decade with one of hip-hop’s most bitterly funny and quietly mournful reinventions ever conceived. After the death of his brother Subroc and a ruinous relationship with Elektra dissolved KMD in ’94, the reemergence of DOOM as the Fondle ‘Em label’s rawest-sounding punchline genius proved to be a powerful spark for the disillusioned artist. And while the Fantastic Four imagery and samples of Operation: Doomsday‘s Marvel-mutating origin stories seem like familiar referential geek-culture fandom on the surface, it hits on a blend of emotional directness and fantastical strangeness that captured the comics’ graf-artist-inspiring halftone pop-art surrealism and heightened reality better than any Kevin Feige gameplan ever could. Beneath that surface is the defiance of a wronged man who sees his alienation as a good excuse to fuck up the works on all kinds of fronts. Sample the Beatles as a pretext to upend the entire concept of consistent meter and flow on the timewarping “Tick, Tick…” (featuring once-close, eventually-estranged partner MF Grimm)? Invoke the Saturday morning silliness of Scooby-Doo on “Hey!” while delivering the kinds of idiomatic subversions that super-serious hardcore heads would sell their left nut to grimace into existence? Rock mics harder over upbeat Quincy Jones fusion (“Rhymes Like Dimes”) and glossy big-Deele ’80s cosmopolitan R&B (“Red and Gold”) than any of his peers could over the most rough-rugged-n-raw boom-bap NYC could provide? He’ll do all that with the kind of ease that feels like a card-pulling challenge in itself. Who’ll even try to tell him no when the threat of absolute annihilation for all who oppose him is always within his metal-fingered grasp?

Nate Patrin