On MF DOOM

There have been many times since I began my career as a writer that I contemplated a complete reboot. Whether it was after recounting my dealings with traditional publishers or lamenting the direction I have gone in with my own indie publishing, I held on to the idea that I could create a pseudonym and come back one day to right the ship.

Maybe this is one of the reasons MF DOOM appealed to me. While I won’t recount the evolution of the emcee Daniel Dumile here, it is important to know that he was a man who rebuilt himself from the ashes of his former self, a guy who played by the rules, and when those rules betrayed him, he emerged as the masked supervillain to do things on his own terms. Without really thinking about it, I turned to MF DOOM hundreds of times over the years as I chose to ignore genre and write whatever I wanted to write. Sometimes just seeing the mask made me feel like anything was possible.

So when I learned at the end of 2020 that Daniel Dumile a/k/a Zev Love X a/k/a MF DOOM a/k/a Viktor Vaughn a/k/a King Geedorah a/k/a The Supervillian a/k/a Metal Face had died on October 31st (and belatedly revealed to us by his wife on December 31st), it threw me into a different headspace. It forced me to take a kind of personal inventory on my own creative life, as I grieved his.

MF DOOM believed in doing things his way. He believed that greatness was really out of reach and that the best an artist could do was be better than he/she/they were the day before. He believed that the work should speak for itself. He believed in collaborating with people he admired. He wasn’t afraid to take chances. He didn’t view himself as a torchbearer. He listened to music outside of his genre more than within his genre. He drew inspiration from other areas of art. In all of these things, I see myself. Part of my creative aura is inspired by Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, but another part of my creative aura is inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat and MF DOOM.

I view art as a dialogue, and in my case, a dialogue across various media. My books are not designed to just be in dialogue with César Aira or Lydia Davis or Henry Dumas, but also in dialogue with MF DOOM and Kara Walker and even Savion Glover. I keep the energy of these people around me, and it inspires me when I wrestle with my place in the vast and uncertain world of publishing.

I haven’t ruled out using a pseudonym yet, but I am choosing to focus my energies on celebrating the lives and works of those who have inspired me up to this point. I am grateful that Daniel Dumile decided to share his gift with the world and that he gave us MF DOOM. May he rest in peace.

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Novel(la)ist + Microfictionist + Poet

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Ran Walker

Ran Walker

Novel(la)ist + Microfictionist + Poet

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