British-American rapper MF Doom, one of the most respected and innovative hip-hop stylists of his generation, has died at age 49. In a statement from his wife Jasmine shared on the artist’s social media channels, she wrote that the man born Daniel Dumile in London “transitioned October 31, 2020.” A cause of death has not been announced.
While he may not have been a household name among casual hip-hop fans, Doom was positively revered among knowledgeable fans who followed his three-plus-decade career through outsize personae, legendary collaborations, and some of the most influential records in the genre’s history.
After early work with the group KMD, Doom adopted his iconic stage name — and a habit of obscuring his face while performing — in the late 1990s. He ultimately adopted a mask inspired by comic book villain Doctor Doom, becoming part of a wildly adventurous underground hip-hop scene that cut against the grain of mainstream hip-hop with experimental soundscapes and remixed pop culture references.
As his profile rose in the first decade of the 2000s, Doom collaborated with producer Madlib on the 2004 album Madvillainy, hailed as an instant classic. On a recent list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, Rolling Stone ranked the album alongside the likes of Isaac Hayes’s Hot Buttered Soul and George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass: “Doom’s rhymes are so casually adventurous that sometimes it takes a second to notice how stunning they are.”
MF Doom also collaborated with producer Danger Mouse (as Danger Doom), Ghostface Killah, and a wide range of other artists including Damon Albarn and members of Radiohead. He had a Minnesota connection through Minneapolis indie rap institution Rhymesayers Entertainment, which released his 2004 album Mm..Food as one of several different labels Doom worked with over the course of his career.
— Skye Rossi (@skyerossi) February 3, 2015
In her statement, the artist’s wife emphasized the private side of a man who wore a literal mask to the outside world. “The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for,” she wrote. “Thank you for all the things you have shown, taught and given to me, our children and our family.”
— DOOM (@MFDOOM) December 31, 2020