Madvillainy – Concept or Construct?

Madvillainy Album Review

Madvillainy is an alternative rap concept album put out by the infamous MF Doom. Doom was a British-American rapper known for his unique wordplay and iconic metal mask.

A hybrid mix of jazz, experimental hip-hop, and carefully curated audio clips combine to create this exalted piece of art. Working in collaboration with fellow producer Madlib, the album was recorded between 2002 ad 2004, eventually being released by Stone Throw Records on March 23, 2004. Why this album is so highly regarded becomes evident if only taking into account how it was composed; Madlib produced a majority of the tracks while in his hotel room in Brazil using a limited amount of equipment, a Boss SP-303 sampler, a turntable, and a tape deck.

Another interesting aspect of MF Doom’s creative process and one that makes his work so unique is his rhyming ability and his archetypal sampling talent; Madvillainy is renowned for its groundbreaking style, insane wordplay, social perspective, and production.

Madvillainy has been humbly described as a “monolith to the pinnacle of hip-hop’s potential and artistic achievement, one that continues to ignite a love and deeper understanding for hip-hop in all those who reach out and touch it.”

The relevance of Madvillainy cannot, must not be understated. MF Doom and Madlib arguably influenced the next generation more than any artists in recent years have. Think of Kanye’s unorthodox producing style and flair, Tyler the Creator’s ingenuity and boundary-breaking finesse, or of Earl Sweatshirt’s beautiful honesty and pure skill. Many artists have attributed much of their influence having come from MF Doom, including Amińe, Kota the Friend, Bas, redveil, and Westside Gunn.

In December of 2020, MF Doom’s wife revealed to the world that the hip-hop legend had passed away a few months earlier. Born Daniel Dumille, this one man’s legacy and influence will live on in the heart and minds, and ears of all lovers of music for years to come.


Favorite Song Transitions:

Operation Lifesaver aka Mint Test to Figaro


Rhinestone Cowboy to Accordion

Favorite Songs:

Fancy Clown – This song is perfect. One of my own favorite songs of all time, I personally am able to rap every single lyric. “YOU BEEN DIPPIN’ AROUND THE TOWWNNN WITH THAT FANCY CLOWWWNN”. The only issue I have with this song is that I wish it were longer. This song offers a unique perspective to Doom’s rapping style; Fancy Clown includes a feature from one of MF Doom’s alter egos, Viktor Vaughn. To take a deeper dive into explaining who MF Doom is would be impossible, so to simplify when he rapped and produced to help with his creative process he would rap under certain “alter egos”. This is what gave MF Doom such a perplexing perspective. For example, when rapping and producing his most common title was MF Doom, Metal Fingers when producing, and Metal Face when rapping. MF Doom is the character the artist embodied most, a man who resembled a cartoon supervillain with grandiose aspirations for world domination. Another of Doom’s “characters” is Viktor Vaughn, a younger man who follows and admires MF Doom, but with a superiority complex. Vaughn secretly holds some resentment for Doom, thinking that he himself could accomplish what Doom was aspiring for, and he basically believes that whatever Doom can do he could do better, while still maintaining a certain level of respect for MF Doom as a point of influence and a pioneer.

Favorite Lyrics:

Strange Ways:

“They pray four times a day, they pray fiveWho ways is strange when it’s time to surviveSome will go of they own free will to dieOthers take them with you when they blow sky highWhat’s the difference? All you get is lost childrenWhile the bosses sit up behind the desks”