Rare DOOM Interview
Know Mr. Dumile: DOOM explains BORN LIKE THIS, talks own history, and draws line between himself and villainous characters
By David Ma
Daniel Dumile’s gift is the ability to be totally engrossed in and devoted to whatever his DOOM character does. He doesn’t seem concerned with what fans or critics say about him or his work and has done so for two-decades. This is how he’s held his place while teetering between mainstream success and inde-rap stardom. His latest, BORN LIKE THIS, reflects more of the same, as he is one of the few who can mesh rap veterans (Raekwon and Ghostface) with indie-powerhouses (Slug of Atmosphere) naturally, without seeming gimmicky or dependent on guest spots. Production-wise, Dilla, Madlib, and Jake One have a song each while DOOM manned the rest. BORN LIKE THIS is DOOM at his most strange, most gruff-sounding, weird, and somewhat most confessional.
As a rapper, as an interview subject, DOOM has been notoriously elusive, often silent when time comes to promote his latest project. Say what you want about his antics or music, DOOM is, and has been, completely uncompromising as an artist. As one of rap’s most consistent emcee/producers ever, as unapproachable as DOOM may seem, the person behind the persona is anything but. He begins our long-scheduled interview with: “Sorry it took this long to actually do this man. I wasn’t trying to discriminate! How are you doing today? What’s your name dude?” Hardly a mean guy, definitely a normal dude and a unique figure, Dumile graciously answered my questions about BORN LIKE THIS and all things DOOM, all the stuff about the mind behind rap’s longstanding supervillain.
Can we start with the mask? What are the reasons behind it?
It’s really just another character. Zev Love X was a character too, most people think that’s me but he wasn’t. They’ve all been characters. The DOOM thing is to be able to come at things with a different point of view. I decided the mask would just add to the mystique of the character as well as make DOOM stand out. I though it’d be an easy way for people to see and differentiate between characters, sorta like when an actor gains weight for a role. Throwing on the mask was just a good way to switch it up. King Geedorah and Vik are characters too for example.
So Zev Love wasn’t just a moniker but was also a character?
Yeah. Just ‘cause he didn’t wear a mask doesn’t mean the stuff I said was all comin’ from me. DOOM is actually more like an older, super-villain version of Zev in a mask.
Where did you find the actual mask? Do you have it specially made?
You know the movie Gladiator? Well around that time, they started selling these “gladiator masks” that were replicas from the movie. So what it was is that a friend of mine told me he saw this mask that would be perfect for the DOOM character. I trusted him, even though it was kinda expensive [laughs].
So he went and bought the mask, which was this collector’s item thing that came on a wooden stand and all that. It was a total replica that came on a stick with a stand for displaying and shit. There was this top piece on it too that my friend just tore off [laughs]. He took off the stick and everything else and just kept the faceplate. You know how construction hats have a plastic thing on the inside that you can tighten? Well, he just took one of those and fastened it to the mask. So he rigged it up for me. Since then, I chromed it out, added a ruby to it too. That’s how the mask came about.
- Subroc, The Hip Hop Hendrix