Production prankster and mysterious MC mix high and low in dense, silly musical mind-meld.
Known as Zev Love X of the early-'90s rap group KMD back in another cultural lifetime, masked rapper Daniel Dumile has -- under his current moniker MF Doom -- released so many records with so many collaborators over the past half-decade that he's almost impossible to keep track of. I'm partial to 2004's solo, conceptual MM..Food?, but the new The Mouse and the Mask is a close contender.
On this record, Doom's trademark dense, silly-smart rhymes are paired with music from DJ Dangermouse, the production prankster who got famous a year ago for mashing the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album into his own Grey Album.
Heavily influenced by such Adult Swim animated series as Space Ghost and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Mouse and the Mask is essentially a soundtrack to getting high and watching the Cartoon Network. I have little experience with either of those subjects, but The Mouse and the Mask still thrives as a funny, fascinating soundtrack to someone else's life.
The album's inspired mix of high and low is best captured on the verse-chorus-verse transition of album standout "Old School Rules": Guest Talib Kweli closes out his opening verse with "I draw on anything for inspiration/A fond memory, a piece of paper, walls in a train station." At the other end of the chorus, Doom opens his closing verse with this: "And we'll be right back after these messages/Fellas grab your nutsacks, chicks squeeze your breastesses!" -- Chris Herrington