Doc Zeus is taking this back to the days before he had a certified player hating degree.
Flashback to the summer of 2005: America was in the midst of year five of the George W. Bush “Appetite For Destruction” tour, my beloved Cleveland Cavaliers had just signed the Incomparable Larry Hughes and his 40.7% career shooting percentage to a five-year, $70 million dollar contract, and for a young Pre-Med Zeus, my Ghostface and Doom fandom were at all-time highs. A year earlier, Doom had just released Madvillainy to the astonishment of all and Ghost was prepping the classic, Fishscale.
It seemed like a match made in Jack Kirby-inked heaven. Both Ghost and Doom were eccentric comic book-obsessed titans of the rap music industry – Doom, the masked pillar of underground hip hop heads everywhere and Ghostface Killah, the greatest fucking rapper alive. The world was primed and ready to hear Starks and Doom trade verses dripping in a scrumptious murder sauce over Doom’s signature skunked, cartoony soul chops. And then… We. Never. Heard. Anything. Of. It. Again.
Outside of a few re-hashed beats from Doom’s instrumental projects that had been previously used on Fishscale, there was hardly a note released for public consumption. The silence was deafening. Had hardcore fans simply hallucinated the incident? The only whispers that this album actually existed were the terse assurances that Ghost and Doom uttered in interviews whenever an enterprising music journalist would ask about the status of the project. To put this in perspective, both Chinese Democracy and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, the Cuban Linx II of rock and the Chinese Democracy of hip hop, were released in the interim. Even the historically non-existent fever dream, “Detox”, has managed to release a few stray joints.
Flash forward six years. Last night, Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg debuts the first DoomStarks material since time immemorial, the Madvillainz remix edition of “Victory Laps.” Produced by longtime Doom co-conspirator, Madlib, and featuring original verses from MF Doom and Ghostface Killah, Nature Sound is releasing the single on limited edition cassette (!!) as a warm up for the release of the long awaited LP that was promised long ago. The song featuring Madlib’s dirty soul chops and classic Ghost/Doomery sounds as if its vintage mid-00s indie hip hop (which can be actually vintage now) mostly because it was probably recorded in 2005. At one point, Ghost makes reference to Jake Plummer and throwing accuracy and that’s not meant to be ironic or an insult. This means you will probably like this song if you worshiped anything these guys had done during this period.
Knowing what we know now about the nature of these collaborative LPs, I can’t help but feel a little cheated listening to this song. DoomStarks was spawned in the era before we knew better than to trust artists, living on opposite ends of the country, to actually sit down in the studio and actually you know…”collaborate” with each other. While “Victory Laps” is certainly a capable effort simply on the strength of it’s association with its creators, it bares all of the hallmarks of the emailed MP3 era of rap music collaboration. Other than a tossed off ad-lib from Ghost in the middle of Doom’s first verse, there is little chemistry between the two ,nor is there a strong concept governing the creation of this song. You can tell this was pieced together by Madlib in the midst of Ghostface’s and Doom’s touring schedule.
It also suffers from its own temporal displacement. From the lyrical references made to the cut of Madlib’s chop, it’s evident that this was a song created in a very different era. This causes the release of the song to feel like less of an event than it likely would be had it been released years ago. Rap music in the blog-era has cheapened the “event song” to the point where even the biggest artists in the game struggle to make their big records seem “important.” Not when every mediocre single from every middling and inessential artist gets it’s own breathless Youtube preview and indulgent song snippet — all to feed the music blog industrial complex.
DoomStarks was created before ubiquitous rap blogs invaded hip hop’s consciousness. Releasing it now likely damns it to song du jour status on blogs and Twitter before disappears and re-emerges come list season in December. Blogs (and this one is no different) have turned most music into the musical equivalent of the mayfly – destined to live for one glorious day before disappearing into the same hiding spots as Doom himself. Maybe he’s just a hoarder.