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, 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.”