MC Serch grew up in Queens, NYC, forming the legendary 3rd Bass with DJ Richie Rich and Pete Nice in 1988. Over his career he’s also supported up and coming talent – Zev Love X, later known as MF DOOM, appeared on The Gas Face on 3rd Bass’ debut record The Cactus Album (more on that below), while a young Nas guested on Serch’s solo debut LP, 1992’s Return Of The Product.
Fast forward to 2021 and his podcast series Did I Ever Tell You The One About… focuses on delving deep into the stories of significant figures in hip hop through talking to their family and friends. Big Daddy Kane was the focus of the first season, and for the follow-up season Serch reflects on his old friend, Daniel Dumile.
We’re very pleased to welcome Serch to Bonafide for five slices of history. Over to him…
Bonafide asked me to pick my top five favourite Zev Love X/MF DOOM songs with a brief description, and this was a significant challenge. Not to pick the songs, but the “brief” description.
See, I don’t know how to really do anything briefly. Even my podcast, the Did I Ever Tell You The One About… featuring first Big Daddy Kane, and now MF DOOM, and episodes when most would do just an abbreviated podcast.
You see, hip hop culture raised me, and I owe it everything and very much like my relationship with Daniel Dumile, AKA Zev Love X, AKA “The Mask”, AKA “The Villain”, AKA MF Doom, is not as easy as a simple, “Why”?
I also hoped I would be able to see him and make amends…
I met Daniel when he was 14 years old when I was hanging out in Long Beach, Long Island. We grew up together. He knew my parents, I knew his mom. We both grew up loving very similar attributes of what was a growing steamrolling cultural dynamo called hip-hop culture in NYC. So, making music with him and then listening to the music he made, became not only a passion, but a profession. And then in almost a blink it was over.
We were grown, grown apart, not speaking, raising children and going about our lives. I had stopped making music while he was on a mission to redefine what an indie artist was. I also hoped I would be able to see him and make amends and then while in a chat on clubhouse I heard Young Guru, the legendary audio engineer (and genius) share that he just read a post from Jasmine Dumile that DOOM was gone.
Those in the Clubhouse room that afternoon thought it was a joke but then I went to IG and saw more and more posts and I knew it was FACTO, or fact as I like to say. He was gone. Joining his brother Subroc, his Sun Malaki (I call him Sun because he shines like one), and so many other hip-hop greats. So my top five is not only filled with great music, but also great memories.
I hope you indulge me in allowing me to elaborate but if not, all Kosher. Just read the song titles and keep it moving. But imma talk my talk….
Listen and subscribe to Serch‘s podcast, Did I Ever Tell You The One About… MF DOOM, right here.
#1 / 3rd Bass – The Gas Face
3rd Bass were finishing our debut album, The Cactus Album on Def Jam and were in the studio with Prince Paul. Gas Face was a term that our crew in Long Beach created when a ‘girlie’ (what we called a young woman back in the day), after being asked for her number would make in disgust at the thought that we could even get her number.
It took me almost 30 years after the song’s release to truly understand what his verse was about.
So when we were going to the studio I asked Zev if we could do Gas Face and if he would jump on the 3rd verse. It took me almost 30 years after the song’s release to truly understand what his verse was about. His wordplay was so dense, complicate and intricate that I could not even unravel it. And then it hit me that his verse was about how the genesis of the Gas Face came to pass. It was brilliant and it was truly poetic. He found a complicated way to simplify the obvious.
If you are not aware of the song, please bypass verses one and two and go right to Zev Love X’s verse. Well worth the listen.
#2 / 3rd Bass – Ace In The Hole ft KMD
When it came to 3rd Bass’ second album, KMD had already established themselves as a true original voice in hip-hop, having dropped their debut album Mr. Hood. So it was no surprise that we would have KMD and 3rd Bass do a second song together.
This was a song about brotherhood, love and taking out those who were squandering the efforts of the culture for material gain. Sure we were getting good money touring, but we were about doing it in a way that preserved the true culture of where we came from and clowning those we didn’t see it our way. Another great moment in the growth of Zev Love X as an emcee…
#3 / KMD – Nitty Gritty ft Brand Nubian
When Lord Jamar’s brother Shaquan Allah says at the start of this song “Wait the 5% and the Ansar’s on the same track, this is something totally new”, he wasn’t bullshitting.
When I was interviewing the Gods Sadat X, Lord Jamar and Grand Puba Maxwell about this song for the podcast, I felt it was important to play it back for them. Each one of them, as I conducted the interview, was prominently displayed on my computer screen. And when I pressed play and they could hear the song again the smiles on their faces took us all back to being young, powerful and connected.
Zev Love X’s rhyme starts:
Born again, a soul blend, then / KMD & Brand Nubian Friends
Lord Jamar, Sadat X and Puba – each separately interviewed – all smiled the same when they heard that line. The knowledge dropped by those brothers on this song in a powerful and timeless message that these brothers, in sprits on hip hop and knowledge being born, have a purpose beyond the music.
#4 / Kurious – Benetton ft MC Serch and MF Doom
So I get a call from Kadi asking me if I would jump on a song with (Kurious) Jorge and DOOM. I loved Jorge as an emcee and the music business got in the way of us making music together previously. He sent me the track and I loved it and I laid down my verse in hopes of it being something that would connect me, DOOM and Jorge.
A few months later, Kadi calls me and asks if I am coming to NY anytime soon so they can shoot the video. I told him that I don’t need a reason to come, let me know the date and I’m there. I told him that since my verse was about Far Rockaway, that I wanted to shoot it in front of my Mom and Dad’s house and shoot it on the boardwalk. I shot the first half in my parents driveway, but I rang the bell first. No answer, so I figured since I didn’t tell them I was coming home they were out.
We shoot the video for like three hours in my parents front yard and as we are leaving my parents walk out. They were asleep and didn’t hear the door and they were heading out to dinner. They invited me, Kadi and Jorge to go to Sal’s Pizza in Cedarhurst and we ate and laughed our asses off. We then shot in the dark the remainder of my verse on Beach 12th Street. My hope was that we were then going to shoot DOOM’s part and I would see him, but they told me they were not sure when they would be shooting his verse. I was disappointed but I went to the hotel and went home the next day.
The only way I found out the song came out was my homeboy Justin Prager called me and asked me about the song and the video and I had no idea it was even out!! But it is a personal favourite of mine as DOOM happily reminisces with Jorge about overcoming obstacles in life and staying close to those you love.
#5 / MF DOOM – Doomsday ft Pebbles The Invisible Girl
What can I say, that DOOM doesn’t so perfectly spit on this classic;
On Doomsday, ever since the womb, till I’m back where my brother went, that’s what my tomb will say.
Right above my Government Dumile, either unmarked or engraved, hey who’s to say.
It’s a year and I still weep like a baby when I hear those lyrics. There are things I can’t say to “Vill”, as Ben Klingon loving refers to him as. He speaks of his friend in the present. I don’t have such luxuries. I speak to him through the music he left behind and as the world get to feel him, as Pebbles The Invisible Girl so beautifully sings, continue to emcee.
Thank you Bonafide, thank you all the families and friends who contributed to the podcast and those who keep the Mask up. Love and Light upon you always.