Dante Ross Recalls The Origins Of MF DOOM

Legendary A&R Dante Ross chronicles DOOM's time as Zev Love X of KMD and Credits him with creating "backpack rap."

After some 20 years in the Rap game, it’s easy for some to forget DOOM got his start as Zev Love X in the group KMD. During an interview with TheBerrics.com, as part of his “Hip Hop History 101” series, former Tommy Boy and Elektra A&R Dante Ross recalled how DOOM used a seemingly negative situation to begin the second phase of his Hip Hop career.

“MF DOOM had already completed [KMD’s] second album,” Ross explained. “He had turned it in, and the record was rejected by the label I worked at based on the artwork. Elektra refused to put the record out, and they gave him back his masters and a check for $20,000 three months after his brother was killed.”

The now infamous cover of the album, Black Bastards, featured a Sambo figure being lynched in effigy in a game of Hangman. Ross joked that he and DOOM got drunk the day Elektra decided to part ways with him, while DOOM quipped that he should get dropped more often.

While DOOM and Subroc had a modest following due to both their own efforts and an affiliation with 3rd Bass, DOOM would essentially reinvent himself as a solo artist following a two-and-a-half year hiatus. As a soloist, DOOM had stints on both Rhymesayers, Stones Throw and secured a deal with Cartoon Network.

“He basically went on to create what is known as ‘backpack rap’ or underground rap,” Ross added. “He is probably the biggest proponent and the most recognizable figure from the Fat Beats era of post-regular, weirdo rap. It was always a marvel to me that he could take that bad blow, turn it around, and come back with a new entity and be bigger and better than ever. It’s a testament to him as a person.”

28 Comments

  • MF Truth

    Dante Ross... You are not saying anything new just stating facts we already know. (referring to KMD's Black Bastards) At least hip hop heads (yes we exist and you can stop referring some of them on twitter as 'kiddos'). You've done some cool shit in Hip Hop but you're not on anyone's radar now. Pass the torch a 50 year old man who wears sideways caps and plucks his brows and pimps Action Bronson to get back 'in' the game surely doesn't revalidate you. Mf Doom didn't start backpack rap btw. Bob and Stretch and fat Beats cmon you from Ny and don't know that??

  • Satan

    What the devil. He's on another level.

  • jjsteez

    top 5 dooom tracks (lemme know if you feel it but dont hate) 1) vaudeville villain ("act like they monkey ass can heal back like wolverine 2) meatgrinder (i can HONESTLY say that no rappe has ever rapped like this on a beat 3) bell of doom ("feen for the mic can't kick it like a cig habit 4) doomsday (wow, just wow) 5) accordion (such a flossy beat, and the fact that he says so much in so little) i know im not hittin enough on his best albums but those are just classic tracks to me. crazy how such bizarre shit can help me through some bullshit in my life SUPERVILLAIN

  • Hidden Darts

    Operation Doomsday Vaudville Villain Take Me To Your Leader Venemous Villain Madvillain MM FOOD Dangerdoom Born Like This This man blessed us with mad classic shit. Salute.

  • MPistol

    screw all you clowns - Rough House Survivors started backpack rap!!! "I got a rhyme! Come check my backpack!" WHAT! learn some sh*t ya scrubs

    • jj steez

      your a clown yo. don't take 'backpack rap' so seriously, anyone can serve an argument of who legit started it. your prolly a scrub cause you dont get down with the villain

  • konshus3rdubz

    love doom, but company flow started backpack rap, nuff said

    • Hidden Darts

      Love coflow but that one album aint holdin a torch to all that fire and brimstone shittin out the womb of DOOM. And what, you tryn to say they the first cats to kick rocks with a rhyme book in a backpack!?! Fuck outta here SMH

  • Yo

    tell me what you think of my artist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE5HZKxZ41A

  • Mark Cuss

    Great interview. Don't know why this isn't on the front page of hiphopdx.com for that insignificant reason alone. Guess it shows DOOM isn't as respected as he (just from being a long time follower) deserves to be.

  • Anonymous

    Big ass fan of doom but i have yet to hear an album like operation doomsday to me byyy far his best amazing verses from the rest of the m.i.c. on there to. Like the rest of yall im still waiting on madvillainy 2 madlib+doom probably my favorite mc/producer combo even over jayz and preemo

  • Doubl Negative

    I love Doom, from his first ish with 3rd Bass, "Gasface", to last year's Born Like This. There were some problems involvin' him leavin' the States, but thankfully that's been sorted out now, and I got to see him in concert for the first time in London last year, and there was no psudo-Doom either. Bein' a bit of a geek, I've got the Black Bastards and Doomsday artwork tattooed on me.

  • jjsteez

    yo DOOM is my man straight up. i rock him more than any other cat on my ipod, and when girls get in the whip i still aint scared to drop some americas most blunted, light up, and tell em to listen to dudes wordplay. his flow is hot. a lot of yall will say nah his flow is thought provoking, intelligent, magical...not 'hot'. but 'hot' is such a proper term. when he drops sumthin like 'a program computed bio crafted herbi hancock' perfectly on the beat...woww. i could party to that 'hot' shit

  • Anonymous

    the berrics supports scientology

  • spacenuggetone

    fuck ya'll DOOM tha dopest. And that man spat on that camera at 3:20

  • Clarence Rogers

    One of my favorite emcees, period, and his production is bonkers!

  • HipHop

    DOOM is one of the greatest off all time. This guy hasn't dropped one bad or medicore album. All his shit is dope as fuck, the wordlplay is crazy. I wish he drops another Viktor Vaughn LP 'cause the first one was simply incredible.

  • rick

    DOOM is DONE! Dude was killing it back in 00-06. But he was dropping CD's every fuickin month! Viktor Vaugh, King Geedora, DOOM, DangerDOOM etc. I think he killed his own hype by dropping too much music at once....if that makes sense. And before you fucking backpackers talk your shit, sit your punk ass down cause class is in session...BITCH!

  • John Stachowski

    Cool video. MF Doom def. is an acquired taste but great nonetheless. Accordian is one of the dopest.

  • Charles ExSavior

    I wish Madvillany 2 would drop already. Much love and respect for DOOM but he's been slacking recently. I do recall buying new shit from him 6 times in one year early 2000, good ol' days.

  • Machiventa

    Nice vid, nothing new. He failed to mention that the drawing for the cover of Black Bastards was drawn by DOOM. And what is MF FOOD lollll, jus playin Dante.

  • Mr. Tibbs

    Its about time somebody gave Doom some recognition. Doom is the illest on the mic to date with word play and flow. Anytime you got Mos Def on youtube holding your nuts you know your ill. And did I mention he's a producer? Doom represents hip-hop bottom line. 20 years in the game, shit. Respect.

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