By Andrew Barber
December 13, 2007. Atlanta, Georgia. A packed house of eager attendees impatiently waits for the evening’s main event: Hip-hop’s resident supervillain, Metal Face DOOM. Af ter hours of repetitive DJ sets, lackluster opening acts and a lot of standing around, a shadowy figure emerges from behind the curtain around 1:30 AM. The masked man takes the stage donning camouflage fatigues and a giant hooded tarp and the crowd erupts in excitement. However, this warm embrace is short-lived as the true DOOM fans in attendance know something is a bit off with the man they ostensibly assume to be Daniel Dumile. Within 20 minutes, the lip-synching performer quietly leaves the scene to an angry mob of fans hurling water bottles and expletives with equal fervor. The events that transpire moments after DOOM’s exit are even more troubling: allegations from the club owner, the promoter and patrons that members of DOOM’s entourage stole the proceeds from the ticket sales at the door and fled into the night. The next morning DOOM’s home address and phone number were floating around the Internet as if they were pictures of Eliot Spitzer’s call-girl:
“Many apologies go to all of you who came out to the MF DOOM show last night at MJQ and paid $30 of your hard earned money only to watch him lip sinc [sic] for 20 minutes at 1:30 in the morning. This was by far one of the single worst experiences I’ve had as a club promoter and I sincerely apologize if you walked away feeling cheated. To make matters even worse, MF DOOMS [sic] appointed doorman took off with all the money from the door after the show! As soon as we realized the money was stolen, we decided to help ourselves to all of MF DOOMS [sic] merchandise which included a bunch of t-shirts and posters. So, in an effort to make it up to everyone who walked away feeling cheated, we’re giving away all the merchandise for free so come and get it while supplies last!! And if that’s not enough, feel free to let MF DOOM aka Daniel Dumile know how you really feel by calling him at his home in Kennesaw, Georgia.”
Atlanta music promoter Randy castello was responsible for booking the December show at MJQ. Everything about his experience sounds like something straight out of a Harmony Korine movie. As Randy tells it, he mentioned in passing to one of Doom’s handlers that he would be interested in booking the rapper for a show in late 2007. A few days later, Randy began receiving mysterious emails from Doom’s “booking company,” Cohen & Price Booking Agency. A quick Google search turned up absolutely nothing for a Cohen & Price Booking Agency. Bizarre phone calls from Doom “associates” at odd hours of the day and peculiar demands were soon met in order to secure the date. Despite the fact that Doom’s antics briefly tarnished his reputation in the industry, castello harbors no ill will: “I think 20 years from now we’ll still be talking about Doom. He’s the Andy Kaufman of hip-hop.”
For the hip-hop fans who have been following the Doom saga over the past year, the Atlanta incident comes as no surprise. certain performers on the Paid Dues portion of Rock the Bells have openly griped about his 20-minute lip synching set. In August of 2007, Doom pulled a similar stunt at the Independent in San Francisco, where one of Doom’s requests was that pictures—and even camera phones—be banned from the premises. Allegedly, a rather malnourished version of Doom hit the stage and treated the crowd to 20 minutes of uninspired lip-synching before jetting through the back door. m-Eighty, managing Director of Wu- Tang’s Think Differently Music Group, was at the San Francisco show.
“I knew something was up from the moment I walked in the spot. The venue would announce every five minutes: ‘No photography or video allowed,’” M-Eighty says. “This is a little 400-person venue which usually lets you do whatever the hell you want…Disregarding the fact that Doom is neither 180 pounds nor less than six feet tall, the hype man was the only person on stage with a live mic. The Doompostor could have at least lip synced over a recording of a live show instead of album tracks and perhaps not fled the stage after performing for less than 15 minutes amongst the boos of the sold out venue.”
A month later at the New York-Tokyo music Festival, Doom was a no-show after it was announced to those in attendance that he was hospitalized from complications stemming from an asthma or heart attack (depending on who you ask). Doom responded to these allegations, via Stones Throw: “What’s up? I’m dead.”
So what’s really going on with Doom? His label and publicists continue to downplay these allegations as only rumors and mistaken fans gone awry. Is Doom truly hip-hop’s Andy Kaufman? Is he losing a battle to alcoholism? Doom has said several times that whoever wears the mask is indeed Doom and that the masked-mc is only a character. He invokes the fact that several actors have played Batman for effect.
Back in December, unconfirmed rumors alleged that the man’s next album would be called DOOMpostor. Doom associate John Robinson told UndergroundHipHop.com, “Number one, there’s a method to the madness, always know that. Number two, DOOMpostor 2008. That would be my comment. Never forget, we’re not dealing with the superhero, we got the supervillain.”
So has Doom been sending out impostors to lay groundwork for the release of DOOMpostor, or is Doom just a lazy mc who doesn’t mind taking advantage of his loyal fanbase? His work ethic has rapidly declined since his creative peak in 2004-2005, when Doom was churning out albums every few months. It’s been three years since the release of a proper album, and many of his rumored projects, such as his album with Ghostface Killah, have yet to see the light of day. Rumors of Doom’s battles with alcohol and drug abuse run rampant; however, no one will speak on the record to confirm or deny this.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing a “Doompostor” show, but hopefully that’s all going to change soon. Screw Dateline, I’m going to do some investigative journalism of my own. I contacted the cohen & Price Booking agency to inquire about booking a Doom show in chicago. The booking agency representative (two people are involved—both very suspect names) informed me that Doom is not touring, but he would be willing to do a spot date in chicago. They want all of their money for the performance upfront. Just for good measure I responded to the booking agent looking for a guarantee that the real mF Doom will show up and not a “Doompostor.” Their response was a simple one:
“I am not in the business of wasting anyone’s time or money, most of all my own. I assure you, Doom does not use impostors. Even though that is the reported title of his next record.” Maybe DOOM’s next collaboration comes with the help of a resurfaced Andy Kaufman…maybe he just pockets your $30 admission from miles away.