SPLAM: MF DOOM – MM…FOOD (S2E1)

After I (Lee) exposed my favourite albums, and they were all projects that came in 2000’s or 10’s – I asked Suood, Phil, Akash and Matt to recommend albums from the apparent golden era’s of Hip Hop. The twitter conversation soon led to Phil proposing a Hip Hop book club – and here is SPLAM (we struggled for a name, but using our initials stuck). Using Onyx’s S(p)lam as an unofficial theme song, we are going to take turns to recommend one another an album to listen to, and then post our opinions in a blog post. We are then to debate our opinions on Twitter, and invite other Hip Hop enthusiasts to join in the conversation using the #SPLAM.

This week, we have Matt’s recommendation of MF Doom’s MM…Food. Here are the initial thoughts of the team:
Matt: 

“Though the subtle anagram of the album’s title/artist’s name may slip past most, the impact of the album after a solid listening session cannot. The year was 2004 and MF Doom – a British-American rapper – had been climbing the underground charts for over a decade before releasing this particular project that would help shape my perspective as a Hip Hop fan forever. Before being introduced to his styles, his character and all that is DOOM, I listened mostly to industry artists and songs, which was cool at the time because back then those artists were actually talented (unlike today).
I was a senior in high school and a friend let me hold a new album he’d been buzzing about, MF DOOM’s “Mm… Food”. I bumped that album for weeks before giving it back and grabbing my own copy. I was simply amazed that something this ingenious was flying so low below the mainstream radar. Then I realized, this was how DOOM wanted it. The exclusivity, the power to speak solely to the “authentic” fans of the culture. I loved him for this album, yes, but more so for who he was as an emcee and Hip Hop purist. A+ production, A+ rhyme schemes, A+ wordplay. Not only does DOOM slay each verse,12/15 songs on the project were also produced by him. Known for his use of intricate and laid back wordplay, DOOM is a master on this album of crafting clever puns and punchlines while also squeezing in samples that only few may recognize (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Superman, to name a few). 
Some of my personal favourite tracks off this album (if I had to choose) would be: Hoe Cakes, Beef Rap, Gumbo, Kon Karne, Rapp Snitch Knishes and Vomitspit. This album is one of my favourites of all-time, and it is also one of the few timeless ones that can be played anywhere, in any year, and remain relevant. That’s the power of music. DOOM for president.”

“We’re off to a really good start to season 2 of SPLAM thanks to Matt’s recommendation, “Mm…Food” by MF DOOM. The album kicks off well with “Beef Rap” but soon enough I’m hit with one of my least favorite tracks, “Hoe Cakes.” The first high points I’ve caught from this album were DOOM’s brilliant rhyme schemes and the luscious production it’s soaked in. It’s short and sweet, considering the segment of instrumentals that runs through the middle, even though I didn’t care for it. Neither did I care for all the movie snippets (?) spread around the tracks or the whole food theme. However, some moments of genius were evident under that theme such as the final tracks, “Kookies.” The amount of features is very limited on this album, which worked both ways for DOOM. Count Bass D enhanced “Potholderz” through his lyricism and intriguing voice but on the other hand, I could’ve done without “Guinesses” and Angelika. That was one of the least interesting tracks and the absence of a DOOM verse made it even worse. Although I’m not a fan of ignoring song structure and going in on one long verses, “Deep Fried Frenz” was a strong contender for my favourite song on this album along with “Potholderz,” until I arrived at the final track. “Kookies” is creatively witty and intelligently delivered, trumping every other track prior to it and providing a pleasing end to the album. “Kon Karne” was a close second though due to the smooth production and DOOM’s flow. “Hoe Cakes” and “Guinesses” share the privilege of being my worst tracks from “Mm…Food.””

“This is the first SPLAM album that I had never really listened to before so it was an interesting experience for me. I’ve never been much of a Doom fan for some reason – nothing against him at all, he’s just never stood out for me, but I’ve heard a lot of hype for him and MM…Food? in particular for years.
Like a good meal I think you need to let an album sit with you for a while to decide whether it really satisfied your hunger or not, and so was the case here.
My first impressions weren’t great. I wrote a one line review after my first listen: 
– It’s like Supreme Clientele with all the personality and charisma stripped out of it.
Now while I think that opinion still holds a bit of weight, having given it repeated listens I’ve realised that it’s quite unfair. My main gripe with this album and something that stopped me connecting with it initially was the musical interludes – they might work well in short bursts and spread out throughout the album but for the most part there are just too many, they’re too long and they add nothing to the album. The biggest culprit of this is the stretch between two of the strongest tracks – Deep Fried Frenz and Kon Karne – squeezing in about 6 interludes in a row and it’s damn near intolerable. I kept thinking it was going to end and then another one came on, absolute madness!
Once I learned to ignore these I realised there’s a lot to enjoy about the actual songs on the album – the beats and content give that careefree fun loving golden age feel and although I wasn’t sure at first Doom’s delivery really captivating me once I was done. The production sounds cheap at times, but it’s obviously an intentional thing and for me it really works – though it certainly helps that the drum patterns really are excellent throughout.
Overall I have to say that if you strip it down to the songs and cut out abut 75% of the interludes you would have a really solid 8/10 album – but I’m not seeing why it’s revered *so* highly as a classic because I didn’t find many fresh ideas on here. Though given how much my opinion has grown in two weeks, I’ll be interested to see how it continues to change because I’ll definitely revisit MM..Food? in the near and distant future.
Best Tracks: Rapp Snitch Knishes
Worst Track: Fig Leaf Bi-Carbonate – for actual songs I’m not a fan of Guinnesses.” 

Lee:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned since the start of #SPLAM, it’s that ‘classic’ albums love skits. I hate skits with an unrivalled passion. Even Eminem and Joe Budden don’t get away with it. 9/10 if an album has a skit on it, it’ll be greeted with a heavy sigh and a swipe of the skip button with the quickness. MF DOOM’s MM…FOOD is something of an unwanted exception. The skit’s are inescapable. They’re everywhere, and if you’re gonna skip them you may aswell eject the CD and let it gather dust on the shelf. 
The combination of Hip Hop, superheroes and food should be a safe-bet to earn my admiration. In theory it’s a double vodka and coke away from being the album that epitomises everything I love in life. In reality though, there’s just too much going on, and not enough of it evokes much interest from me. 
The Angelika and 4ize is a bittersweet record, in that it is undoubtedly one of my favourites but it just leaves me wanting to revisit College Dropout’s School Spirit because of the uncanny likeness. Elsewhere strengths include Potholderz and Deep Fried Frenz, whilst Kon Karne could have been the best on the project if not for the “can’t take the street out of the street person”, because it’s laughably simplistic and therefore it’s become my least favourite.
The production is consistently quality, but each of the tracks individually are often unremarkable. Even the strongest songs on MM…FOOD aren’t likely to be listened to again on their own. As a whole album, I will almost certainly be coming back, because I do feel like I haven’t given it it’s deserved attention as of yet, but I’m not sure it’ll earn more than annual listens.”

Akash:
“MF DOOM’s MM.. Food? Was an album I was excited to review after Matt suggested it, due to the fact that I was familiar with Doom’s work through the popular Adult Swim show, The Boondocks.
Naturally, I went into the album expecting something incredible and I wasn’t disappointed. MF Doom’s tongue in cheek, adamant rhymes, couples with gritty production and minimal but excellent features makes an album worth listening to that made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.
Doom’s content matter, however is rather generic on this album, but still unconventional. Lacking context lead to me researching the album and finding out that in comparison to other albums being released at the time – MM… Food? was something that went against the norm. When other rappers were prone to violent and materialistic rhymes, Doom used food based metaphors and samples to spit his deadpan, unpredictable and ironic lyrics. One of the reasons why I enjoy MF Doom’s work so much is due to the fact that the rapper is every nerd/geek’s delight, unabashedly showing off his obsession with comic books and movies and he doesn’t shy away from flaunting this obsession on MM.. Food either. This is one of those albums that’s gonna get better with every spin. My only complaint is that Doom disappears for extended periods of time and some of the instrumentals used on the interludes were extremely rap-worthy (that beat on Poo-Putt Platter? MY GOD).
Favourite track: Vomitspit, Potholderz, Guinnesses and Rap Snitches.
Least Favourite track: Hoe Cakes.”

So mixed opinions on MF DOOM’s MM…Food, which is sure to evoke debate in the tweets. As for Suood’s pick, we’ll be looking at Citizen’s The Backstage Theory. Join in the conversation on Twitter using #SPLAM. 

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