Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
MF DOOM | Operation: Doomsday
Fondle ‘Em Records (1999)
Selected by Jesse Ducker
MF DOOM executed the best and one of the most unlikely reinventions for an emcee. Once the relatively carefree Zev Love X, a member of the group KMD, Daniel Dumile was irreparably scarred by the music industry and by the death of his brother, Dingilizwe “Subroc” Dumile. He retreated into the shadows, only to re-emerge a few years later as MF DOOM, rocking a metal mask and fashioning himself as a bona fide hip-hop supervillain. He released a handful of 12” singles through Bobbito Garcia’s Fondle ’Em Records, eventually culminating in his first solo album, Operation: Doomsday.
Aligning himself with the Monsta Island Czars, DOOM released a solo album that was unlike most underground hip-hop albums. He transformed his peppy flow into a drunken slur, and seemingly forsook the traditional 16-bar verse/chorus song structure. He rhymed over tracks that mixed hard-hitting hip-hop drums with Quiet Storm-era R&B and jazz. He also conveyed his “origin” story through samples of Fantastic Four records/cartoons, while splicing in bits and pieces from films like Wild Style and the Toho Godzilla movies.
Operation: Doomsday is weird and even slightly unsettling, but it remains extremely influential to a large number of up-and-coming emcees.