When The Villain Was The Hero All Along: Farewell To MF Doom

Christopher A. Smith
8 min readJan 8, 2021
MF Doom (Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo)

You get raised on simple, binary conflicts. Coke versus Pepsi. Hot dogs versus hamburgers. Mars versus Venus. Yankees versus Red Sox. Heroes against villains. But life in all of its myriad ways, will reach out and tell you that it never has been, and never will be that simple. Hip-Hop culture, and rap is certainly no different. Neither are the multitudes to be found in comic books. Same with wrestling. And the figures that dispel and shatter those simplistic conflicts are heralds of unbound creativity and inspiration. These figures come to this point at the end of a torturous and weighted journey to create their own mythology. You can rattle off numerous pop culture figures, comic heroes and the fleeting wisps of street legends on blocks and corners around the world. So it was with Daniel Dumile, formerly known as Zev Love X and reborn as MF Doom.

It’s been one whole week since the world let out a collective gasp at learning of the passing of MF Doom through the words of his widow on social media in the remaining hours of 2020. Disbelief and dismay. A penultimate doomsday in a year that would qualify as a contiguous one due to the coronavirus pandemic and other societal ills. The news is still the impetus for a slew of tributes, and other memorials and fan art and stories being told about the enigma that was Metalface Doom. For me, I felt as if someone had hit me with a zap from a phaser. Like many others in the wake of the news, I initially thought it was another “gotcha” moment from a rapper and artist who was a master of the kayfabe to the point of having stand-ins go on stage as him. (Shoutout to comedian Hannibal Burress who served in that role too.) But to be honest, it is a fitting way for Doom. Leave on your own terms, just as you came back on your own terms when the world counted you out.

Joseph Campbell wrote, “myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths.” It’s hard not to think of that whenever you listen to rap music, and when you start considering where MF Doom resides in hip-hop culture. You’ve got a rapper and producer that tasted fame way back when he stepped onto the scene in 1988 out of Long Beach in…

Christopher A. Smith

Freelance writer. Author of 3 books of poetry. Raconteur. Queens is the county, Jamaica is the place.