There’s too much waiting around when you’re a fan of Supervillain rapper MF Doom. He hasn’t released a solo album since Born Like This in 2009, and his collaborations and sporadic releases haven’t touched the greatness on albums like Operation Doomsday, Mmm Food and MADVILLAINY, his 5/5; 10/10; 100% team-up with Madlib in 2004 that was one of the albums of the decade.
Every year or so there’s a promise of MADVILLAINY II, and his DOOMSTARKS project with Ghostface Killah is another one with a release date that’s pretty elastic at this stage.
Even his live shows are a waiting game, as he hangs around the dressing room getting blazed, then comes on for a 45 minute set (that’s brilliant, in fairness).
It’s this waiting around that led to all the hip-hop and electronic music sites jumping all over his new track, with Doom taking over social media for half a day, and Rolling Stone even jumping on it.
The new track Negus is really a feature on the late Sean Price’s posthumous album Imperius Rex, and forms a 15-track release on Adult Swim that’ll involve Doom dropping one track a week for 15 weeks. It’ll end up as an album called The Missing Notebook Rhymes, filled with tracks from upcoming Doom albums and collabs. Each track corresponds to a notebook robbed from his Metalface Records office in LA when Doom was denied entry to the US in 2010.
On to the track itself – none of the blogs or music sites mentioned what Negus sounds like, even in passing. No one wants to diss Doom, and I guess fewer people want to speak ill of the dead Sean Price.
But Negus feels as half-assed as one of Doom’s infamous imposter shows. The beat is a simple, vaguely sci-fi electronic dirge that loops for three minutes and just fades out. The drum loop has a satisfying oil drum thud and the swirly static hiss adds a bit of atmospheric dread, but the two MCs are barely phoning it in.
Price is better on verse 1, with his gruff delivery and classic old school hip-hop bragging that beats Doom at his own game. Doom has an endless supply of bars in the vaults with abstract and surreal similes describing his flow, but he sounds lethargic and even a bit tongue-tied, as if he’s trying to freestyle after downing a feed of pints.
Sample lines: “Vil, you know the drill, mad drool then gaga, ho/ Shoot the loogie, they super boujee/ Gobsmack dab right cheekbone, gooey, groovy/ Absolutely yucky and out your league, buddy.” It could easily be a snarky Adult Swim skit firing shots at Metal Face.
Listening to Negus back to back with the pair’s 2011 collaboration The Unexpected, there’s a real lack of urgency, and it’s a throwaway opening shot for a new project, but here’s hoping it’s just a blip.