Happy 15th Anniversary to King Geedorah’s Take Me To Your Leader, originally released June 17, 2003.
Daniel “MF DOOM” Dumile has become the gold standard for reinvention in hip-hop music. Once a young wide-eyed kid from Long Island rapping under the name Zev Love X and a member of the group KMD, he rhymed like a hybrid of De La Soul and Brand Nubian. Then, a few years later, burned by a shady record industry and the tragic loss of his brother, Dingilizwe “Subroc” Dumile, he retreated to the shadows. A few years later, Zev Love X reemerged, reborn as MF DOOM, wearing a mask to cover the “scars” from his previous experience.
After a series of critically acclaimed singles, DOOM released Operation: Doomsday in 1999 through Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ’Em Records, and it has since been hailed as a classic, influential to underground and mainstream artists alike. The “resurrected” DOOM was affiliated with Monsta Island Czars (abbreviated as M.I.C.), a crew formed by MF Grimm, another music industry vet and long-time homie of DOOM with serious physical scars of his own; he’s paralyzed from the waist down due to gun shot wounds. Members of the group fashioned alter egos based on characters from the Toho Godzilla films. Grimm became Jet Jaguar, while DOOM refashioned himself as King Geedorah, a stylized-version of King Ghidra, a giant three-headed space dragon and arch-nemesis of Godzilla himself.
In the next few years after the release of Operation: Doomsday, DOOM recorded scads of guest appearances and worked closely with Grimm, releasing a joint EP together and appearing on and producing for his album The Downfall of Ibliys: A Ghetto Opera in 2002. Then, 15 years ago, DOOM released Take Me to Your Leader under the name King Geedorah on the U.K.-based Big Dada Records. There was precious little background shared about the album in advance, other than it featured the lyrical and production talents of the metal-faced villain. But the album remains an underrated entry in DOOM’s discography.
One notable facet of Take Me To Your Leader is how little DOOM raps. Only five of the thirteen tracks feature DOOM verses, and only three are DOOM solo cuts. There are as many songs that feature rappers other than DOOM than there are ones where he appears. Since this is loosely a Monsta Island Czars affiliated album, many of the rappers who appear are members of M.I.C., along with appearances by a few other DOOM affiliates.
Take Me To Your Leader stands out as platform for DOOM to demonstrate his production skills. DOOM has a distinct style: take loops from sources as disparate as ’70s soul, ’60s TV shows, cartoons and monster movies, and mesh them with chopped, often harsh drums and cryptic vocal samples. Some of the beats that appear on Take Me to Your Leader had previously appeared on early installments of his commercially released “Special Herbs” instrumental series, which he released under the name Metal Fingers and functioned as his beat tapes during that time period.
Lyrically, there isn’t much difference between the DOOM and the King Geedorah personas. For this project, DOOM uses the same drunken slur to deliver references to esoteric Saturday morning cartoons and comic books, and continues to refer to himself in the third person. However, he does limit his output on his solo songs to only one verse, some of which are longer than others. For the album opening “Fazers,” DOOM dispenses a lengthy verse over a spacey-beat that sounds lifted from an early ’60s sci-fi flick (which it probably was), reminding fans that he’s “been rhyming longer than Sigmund the sea creature been on Saturday feature.”
“The Final Hour” is one of the dopest hip-hop songs under a minute ever recorded, as DOOM displays more lyrical and production skills in 49 seconds than many artists do in four times that length. He drops a 16-bar verse filled with allusions to kids wearing jellies and his ability to choke out the monster from Ogopogo (as in the Canadian lake monster). For production, DOOM pairs the Theremin-based theme song from the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows with the chopped drums from Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That.”
As he has throughout his career, DOOM works well with others, as it allows him to space out his lyrics and lets his unique style contrast with his rhyming partners. “Anti-Matter,” the album’s sole single, is a tag team endeavor with the mysterious Mr. Fantastik; a metaphorical team-up between two comic book arch-enemies. Here the two trade lines like an ultra laid-back version of EPMD over a loop of the Whatnauts’ “Message From A Black Man” and slapping drums. The background of Mr. Fantastik remains elusive; he only ever rapped on this track and DOOM’s “Rap Snitch Knishes” on MM… Food (2004), and has been M.I.A. ever since. He manages successfully to rhyme “paid” and “head” on “Anti-Matter,” which is good for an enduring legacy.
The oft-kilter “No Snakes Alive” features M.I.C. members MF Grimm and Rodan. The song works a bit like “Tick Tick” from Operation: Doomsday with its change of pace. But while “Tick Tick” features gradual speeding up and slowing down of the beat, things start out deliberate on “No Snakes Alive” then turn to a lightning fast pace on a dime. While DOOM labels himself as a “man of his word who's not to be trusted,” Grimm boasts that he can “touch speeds that minds can’t conceive,” then assumes the role of Riki Tiki Tavi and kills snakes hiding in the grass.
A couple of M.I.C. members get the spotlight on a pair of solo cuts. Hip-Hop veteran and DOOM’s longtime friend Kurious shines on the sublime “Fastlane.” Under the alias of Biolante, a pretty obscure Godzilla villain, Kurious blesses a warped electric guitar loop. He explains that he “specializes in mental picture painting” and tries to find a way to function in the “real” world while pursuing his rap hustle. Meanwhile, on “Crazy World,” Gigan a.k.a. Zymeer paints a hyper-detailed picture of the ugliness associated with surviving in order to make living through illegal business.
“Next Levels” mellows things out as Lil Sci and his brother ID 4 Winds (both of the group Scienz of Life) team up with Empress Stahhr to flow over an incredibly smooth horn loop, for another of the album’s highlights. This is in contrast to the fast-paced and brief “Lockjaw,” where rapper Trunks blazes a 16-bar rhyme with a heavy synth sample from the soundtrack of the forgotten Charles Bronson film The Stone Killer. The Canadian emcee provides the listener with the most bang for his buck, as he growls, “Locked, stocked with two smoking barrels and will use it / To fuck up more beats per minute than drum ‘n’ bass music / Trunks ain’t a rapper, he's a monster from the future / Twisting your body in more positions than Kama Sutra.” Years later, both Lil Sci (as John Robinson) and Trunks would release an album and EP, respectively, produced entirely by DOOM.
Take Me To Your Leader features three cut and paste instrumental tracks, with DOOM providing a beat and overlaying it with various vocal samples. DOOM takes bits from Godzilla movies, Loony Tunes, anime, vintage films, commercials, and news broadcasts and mashes them together to tell a specific story. DOOM attempts to keep things musically interesting by varying his drum programming throughout the song. However, “Monster Zero” is more than five minutes in length, and consequently overstays its welcome. “One Smart N***er” is the best of the three, with DOOM piecing together a warning about racists throughout the country that position themselves as holy warriors but are in fact agents of evil.
But Take Me To Your Leader remains at its best when it features DOOM on the mic. “The Fine Print” is both the album’s closing number and its best song, featuring DOOM rhyming over triumphant horns from a Japanese anime and the beatbox from Just Ice’s “That Girl is a Slut.” DOOM rhymes with all the lackadaisical swag of a giant three-headed space dragon perched atop Mt. Fuji, rapping, “Since two tone Lee’s, these new phonies is boney ho’s / Lonely, like cheese and bologna only / I could've broke my ‘sacro-filly-ac’ / Silly grind, Billy Jack, illy nine, milli black/ Listen to it go BANG! Through and through a Kangol / A strange combination of a kang who teach slang flow / Two-thirds slow, one-third amazing / Wonder words, fine sponsor of this Thunderbird occasion.” And in the midst of an in-depth description of decapitating those who challenge him and displaying their heads atop spikes in the town’s square, he reminds his listeners to “let the music take control. Just don’t let the evildoers abuse it and use it to take your soul.”
Take Me To Your Leader signaled the beginning of DOOM’s most fertile creative period, where he released four albums over a two-year period. And then, just like the beat from “No Snakes Alive,” his output turned on a dime, slowing to just a trickle, with a DOOM affiliated album being released every four years or so. But as it stands, Take Me To Your Leader remains an excellent offering that explored the depths of DOOM’s talent. Whether rapping as a scorned supervillain or an enormous monster, DOOM’s lyrical ability during these years is undeniable.