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16 February, 2003@12:00 am

Though it took some time for people to recognize the genius behind the mask, it’s safe to say that no one with a backpack is sleeping on the Supervillain anymore. Since his re-debut as MF Doom in 1997 (“Dead Bent” 12″), the former Zev Love X has become one of the underground’s best and most consistent artists, his Metal Fingers seemingly able to turn anything they touch into gold. In the past few years, whether it was the microphone, beats, or the wheels of steel, Doom has completely run amok, stealing show after show at will (on his own tracks or otherwise). Soon to release his first new full-length projects since 1999′s classic Operation: Doomsday, Metal Fingers Presents: Special Herbs, Vol. 3 will have to tide fans over until then.

Obviously following up the first two editions, Vol. 3 is yet another collection of familiar Doom beats quaintly named after, you guessed it, herbs (it’s a comic book thing). Anyone wondering if a market even exists for this sort of album should take a look at the Supervillain’s small, but rabid fan base – people are simply drawn to Doom. His metal mask and history with KMD and use of comic book cover art make him a unique and engaging character, but the root cause of MF Doom’s popularity lies in the intangible qualities inherent in his music. Call it soul, funk, boom-bap, or whatever, Doom’s music is filled to the brim with spontaneity and life, technical aspects be damned. You never know what to expect from a Supervillain track, but it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll smile and have fun while listening. Try to resist rocking out to the nostalgic sounds of “Elder Blossoms” or nodding along with the dramatic “Calamus” or guessing what the spooky “Styrax Gum” has to offer next. It’s hard. The “cupboards” of Big Jim, Mister Fantastic, and the late DJ Sub-Roc are raided for extra flavor, adding more seasoning to Doom’s already tasty creations.

Special Herbs isn’t for everyone though. Some will outright hate the seeming disorder of MF’s beats, finding them repetitive while being turned off by the haphazard characteristics Supervillain fans love so much. But, love him or hate him, in a Hip-Hop world preoccupied with scowls and gunshot wounds, Metal Fingers’ quest to merely make enjoyable music is, more than anything else, refreshing. He’s super.

  Mixtape D.L.
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