Artist: Danger Mouse & MF Doom
Album: DangerDoom: The Mouse & The Mask
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Reviewer: DJ MF
Quick, name the best MC of the last 3 years.
Okay, now name the best producer of the last 3 years.
Now, if you answered anything other than MF Doom for both questions, you need a slap upside the head. Count me among the late converts- it took me a while to get into Madvillain. It took me a while to get into Viktor Vaughn. Same with King Gheedorah. But when the truth finally knocked me upside my large skull, it was an epiphany. Doom is JUST THAT GOOD.
Now another question – remember all those remixes of Jay-Z’s ‘Black Album’ a few years back? Who had the best one? Kev Brown? Nah, too boring. Black Jays? Nah, too Canadian. 9th Wonder? Nah, too Frooty Looped. The best remix album was definitely Danger Mouse’s “The Grey Album” which used lots of Beatles samples to deftly craft something that recognized the past while still moving forward.
On “Mouse & The Mask”, we don’t get any Beatles samples, but what we do get once again proves without a shadow of a doubt that Doom is THE top hip hop act in the world right now. Filled with quirky samples, quirky vocal clips (from Adult Swim cartoons), and the slurred/smooth delivery of MF Doom, “Mouse & The Mask” quickly jumps to the top of the heap as one of the best albums of 2005.
At his best moments on the LP, Danger Mouse constructs beats that ape the sound of MF Doom’s latest LP, “MM Food”, and Doom does what Doom does best- ramble about everything from how dope he is, to reference obscure cartoon/comic characters, to 16 bars of rhyming the same last word. You’ll be drawn into this album immediately by the first three tracks- ‘El Chupa Nibre’ utilizes a haunting electronic flute and a gorgeous breakbeat. ‘Sofa King’, the standout track of the LP uses a slowed down fiddle sample as a base that zig zags between Doom’s stream of conscious flow in a brilliant fashion, and also features my favorite TV clips (say Sofa King fast to yourself). The third track of the triumvirate, ‘The Mask’ gets around to pairing the MC in the mainstream most compared to Doom- Ghostface Killah, and in a preview of an album we’ll hear next year from the duo, does not disappoint in the least.
Luckily, the whole album isn’t just straight up stream of conscious Doom raps- there are some concepts present. Doom tries to steal Space Ghost’s talk show on ‘Space Hoes’ over a tripped out whistle sample provided by Danger Mouse, and on ‘A.T.H.F.’, Doom battles characters Shake and Meatwad to amusing results. ‘Benzie Box’, which features a hella smoothed out chorus by Cee Lo, and a buzzing funked out, and actually DANCEABLE bassline from Danger Mouse, addresses some of the played out playerisms of the genre.
In what seems to be an inevitable climb to mainstream success, Doom and Danger Mouse have created the most accessible album of MF’s career – it doesn’t falter at any point, it is consistently dope with the lyrics and beats throughout, and still manages to keep the quirkiness of both artists that their longtime fans adore. It’s not a classic because I don’t think it necessarily breaks any new ground for either artist, but it is one of the better albums of this year. Cross your fingers that this continues.
Sofa king we Todd it indeed.