The Influence of MF DOOM


Image via Complex

Gus Reyna, Writer

MF DOOM was a largely influential artist of the late 90s and mid-2000s. Although Doom passed away in October 2020, his spirit continues to spread through his influence in the rap scene. He’s known for his iconic masked persona, highly complex lyricism, and out-of-the-box style that many artists have taken inspiration from.

Some of the most popular artists that are wide open about their influence from Doom are Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator. Just by listening to some of their old albums, like Earl’s Doris from 2013, it’s apparent that Doom played a big role in the blueprint of production in their work. The mood portrayed by Earl on Doris is very glum and dizzy while creating scenes in your mind about what he really wants to say to the world. He shows what’s been going through his head in a way that’s similar to what Doom has done, while also creating his own grungy, personal style. He even went as far as to sample one of Doom’s songs, “All Caps”, on his debut mixtape, Earl (2010)

Tyler, the Creator also sampled one of Doom’s popular beats during his early days on his debut mixtape, Bastard. Tyler takes this beat (previously sampled from Huit Octobre 1971) and slows it down, making it a more mellow foundation for his song “Odd Toddlers.” Both Earl and Tyler made very similar lyric and delivery choices to Doom before experimenting throughout the years to find their own signature style. Even with their own unique projects, it’s apparent where they stem from and who they studied.

Another artist clearly influenced by Doom is the hip-hop rapper, Your Old Droog. Droog has the same sort of goofy titles with a classy style that Doom pretty much invented. Their similarities are uncanny. Droog said that he actually learned a lot from Doom about maintaining privacy as a rapper. He did this by also having an alter ego, Your Old Droog, inspired by Doom’s alter ego, MF DOOM. Droog’s production is eerily similar to Doom’s. They’ve been compared so much that it’s easy to get them confused. Droog also carries a more “90s” type genre, which is probably why he and Doom are so identical considering Doom started putting out official music in the late 90s. 

Although they’re so alike, they’re not very complimentary. On their song “Dropout Boogie,” the complex lyric choices combined with a packed instrumental production make it hard to keep up with. The track comes out feeling a little overdone. Doom has learned what compliments his style with songs like “Doomsday,” where higher pitched and more drawn-out vocals go well with his quick, complex lyrics. Droog seems to follow this pattern with his song “Bangladesh.” The mellow instrumentals along with the rapper Heems as a feature make the track memorable. Even with so many resembling attributes, Your Old Droog and Doom produce music that’s uniquely made and fun to listen to.

Not only has Doom influenced artists, but he’s also been a big influence on the music industry as a whole. Doom showed many artists that music had no rules and that was a crucial thing for them to be able to embrace their creativity. It gave more freedom to Doom as a producer, but it also liberated him as a lyricist. Being able to take a previously made beat and customize it to your liking gives more time to focus on rhymes, which was a big thing for Doom. 

Doom also played a role in popularizing the subgenre “Lo-Fi hip-hop”. He had the ability to take whatever beat he wanted from whatever genre and make it work to his liking. Doom was one of the more talented MCs that inspired many to do the same with samples that were out of their comfort zone. 

Even with the unfortunate passing of MF DOOM, the music industry has continued to evolve and grow under his influence. He’s left a mark on rap that will be remembered forever. With a style that is unique and that good, who wouldn’t want to take after him?