MF Doom is like today’s generation’s Kool Keith. In the late 90′s, Keith resurrected his post-Ultramagnetic 80′s career with a series of solo albums such as Sex Style and Dr. Octagon, while the former Zev Luv X has done the same after the dissipation of his own 90′s crew, KMD, right around the same time. But while Keith has further alienated himself with increasingly strange releases, Doom is steadily improving. Attacking with a number of aliases (MF Doom, King Geedorah, Metal Fingers, etc) and at least one album to match each, Daniel Dumile’s latest incarnation is Viktor Vaughn, another playful flip on Marvel Comics’ character Dr. Victor Von Doom.
However this isn’t just another name for the Metal Face emcee, as Vaudeville Villain represents a different type of album than MF Doom’s Operation Doomsday or King Geedorah’s Take Me To Your Leader. Reason being is that Viktor Vaughn Doom has completely altered his flow, and has outsourced his usual self-production, making this album a different animal entirely. However, while Doom is usually propelled by his own abstract-but-good beats, it would seem that this would take away from being a worthy follow-up to Operation Doomsday. Not so… in fact, we call Vaudeville Villain one of the best albums released this year.
The highlight of this record lies not in the production (which is also, for the most part, top notch), but in the lyrics. Listening to Viktor rap is like hanging out with a friend who freestyles just for the sake of entertaining those in the room. His cadence rarely changes throughout the album, and yes, Vaughn does exhaust this style by the album’s end, but it’s fun as a barrell of monkeys. Case in point on the powerful, electrifying intro “Vaudeville Villain”,Vic spits “Victor the director flip a script like Rob Riener / the way a lot of crews rhyme their name should be ‘knob shiner’ / for buck they’ll likely dance the jig and do the hucklebuck / for Vic it’s a big deal, they just a bunch of knuckle fucks”. This type of poignant commentary intertwined with classic braggadocio and the childish vocab of Das Efx makes its way through the entire album, with Doom keeping listeners laughing out loud, on their toes as to what kind of outlandish rhymes he’ll spit next.
And the listener’s attention is kept thoroughly throughout, thanks to the solid production that matches the quality of the rhymes. Vic doesn’t try to insert much deeper meaning into tracks like “Lick Upon” and “The Drop”, this is just pure, clever, emceeing over dope beats, much like Eminem’s early Wake Up Show freestyles, but without the shock. The album’s best moment lies in “Saliva”, where Doom is treated to an incredible RJD2 beat (one of his best yet actually), with horny horns-a-plenty mixed with the trademark mellow vibes.
However, while the album is strong for most of its 17 tracks, as the production gets more abstract towards the end, it does tend to lose the listener from time to time, as is the case on “G.M.C.” or “Modern Day Mugging”. Yet it almost is sewn together with the completeness of the early Wu-Tang Clan records, and Vic V. keeps your attention throughout with his excellent rhymes. All in all, there isn’t much else to say except that this is one of the most solid records of the year, strong in both beats and lyrics.
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