Daniel Dumile is a British-born, Long Island, NY-based emcee and producer, who has gone through a number of stage names and personas throughout his lengthy and wildly influential recording career, which began back in 1988 when as Zev Love X, he founded KMD with his younger brother DJ Subroc and Rodan, who was later replaced by Onyx the Birthstone Kid. A&R rep Dante Ross learned of KMD through the members of 3rd Bass and signed the group to Elektra Records. Now, if you were a child of the 80s and a voracious music listener as I was (and still am), you’d remember that KMD’s debut was with a guest spot on 3rd Bass’ “The Gas Face.” Their 1991 full-length Mr. Hood was a minor hit as a result of the success of “Peachfuzz” and “Who Me,” which received regular rotation on Yo! MTV Raps and BET’s Rap City.
Slated for a 1993 release, KMD’s sophomore album Black Bastards was reportedly shelved because of its controversial cover art, which featured a cartoon of a stereotypical pickaninny or Sambo character being hanged from the gallows and because of its lyrical content and themes. Tragically, before the album was completed, Dumile’s brother DJ Subroc was struck and killed while attempting to cross the Nassau Expressway, and within that same week, KMD was subsequently dropped from Elektra Records. Reeling from grief and bitterness, Dumile became a recluse, retreating from music and performing between 1994 and 1997 before emerging as MF Doom, a masked character he created and patterned after the Marvel Comics super-villain Doctor Doom, as a way to seek revenge “against the industry that so badly deformed him,” he has famously claimed.
Around the same time, Black Bastards had become bootlegged, building a sense of intrigue and buzz around Dumile in underground hip hop circles. Since then, he has developed a reputation for an imitable flow, full of surrealistic abstractions, centered around comic book violence, an obsession with all things pop culture and wry observations, as well as a highly sought after collaborator and producer, who has worked with Madlib in Madvillain, Danger Mouse in Danger Doom, Ghostface Killah in Doomstarks, Jneiro Jarel in JJ Doom and Bishop Nehru in NehruvianDoom among others.
Speaking of collaborative projects renowned underground hip hop duo 7L & Esoteric and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck are the members of hip-hop supergroup Czarface, a character the trio created that’s also patterned after comic book villains that represented aspects of each individual members. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to when the trio toured together, which lead to “Speaking Real Words” off 7L & Esoteric’s 2001 album, The Soul Purpose and “12th Chamber” off their 2010 album, 1212, and a number of other singles. And since the group’s formation back in 2013, they’ve released three critically applauded albums — their 2013 self-titled debut, 2015’s Every Hero Needs a Villain and 2016’s A Fistful of Peril.
You’re probably thinking — well, that’s nice and all, but why are you getting into all of this? Simple: MF Doom and Czarface have teamed up on what I think may arguably be one of hip-hop’s most highly-desired collaborative effort Czarface Meets Metal Face. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the album’s second single “Bomb Thrown,” a perfect example of what to expect from the album: the members of Czarface spitting much more straightforward and explosive gangster shit verses — and they alternate with of the genre’s most admired wordsmiths and technicians, as he fires off surrealistic abstractions and non-sequiturs, pop cultural references, insane punch lines and wildly complicated inner and outer rhyme schemes over a soulful production featuring a chopped up chorus, twinkling keys, looped Spaghetti Western-like guitars and tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats. And what makes the collaboration work, is that it’s an effortless meeting of the minds, in which each one challenges and pushes the other in a track full of witty, pop culture references, ridiculous, cartoonish violence, insane word play and rhyme schemes with each artist throwing haymakers at their competition. Unsurprisingly, Czarface Meets Metal Face’s latest single “Meddle with Metal” continues in a similar vein with the super team rhyming over a menacing production centered around a looped sample consisting of buzzing arena-like power chords and arpeggiated organ reminiscent of Jay Z sampling The Doors “Five to One” with thumping beats — but adding a weird sense of whimsy is ethereally twinkling synths in a track that manages to be completely out of left field in its mind-bending experimentalism with a radio friendly accessibility.
Directed by James Reitano for TFU Studios and animated by Boris Zhitomirsky, Brett Johnson and Kyle Greener, the recently released visuals for “Meddle with Metal” continues with the cartoon and comic book obsessed vibe and tone of its predecessor as it has Czarface flying in to save his captured partner DOOM, and once united they battle some baddies near old ruins. As a child of the 80s, the video reminds me of countless afternoons and evenings watching GI Joe and The A-Team.