You’d be forgiven for doubting it but ‘BORN LIKE THIS’ is DOOM’s (all caps, no MF and no BS) first solo album in 5 years since the heavily lauded ‘MM..Food’ LP. Because since then DOOM has been prolific; releasing a smattering of singles as one half of the visionary Madvilliain project, the ‘meh’ ‘The Mouse and The Mask’ album with Dangermouse and a host of guest appearances elsewhere while the rumour mill slowly persists of a Ghostface Killah collaboration.
Short songs dense in texture is endemic of the classic DOOM sound; soul samples, tough drums, murky digital snaps, comic-book skits and verbose raps rich with third and first narrative but there is an even darker edge to ‘BORN LIKE THIS’ than DOOM’s previous work. Perhaps this is reflective of troubled times.
‘BORN LIKE THIS’ takes it’s name from nomadic author Charles Bukowski’s poem ‘Dinosuaria, We’. The pairing of the outsider poet and the metal-faced villain of rap prove to be a surprisingly congruous combination in the menacingly prophetic “Cellz.”
Other more likely collaborators include Raekwon, on the ESG sampled head-nodder “Yessir” and “Angelz” with Tony Starks (AKA Ghostface Killah), a track that has long been a stowaway of cyber space. For an artist so stubbornly original DOOM has always been a smart collaborator, from his inherent understanding with Madlib and others to merchandisers (like Nike SB and Kidrobot) but on ‘BORN LIKE THIS’ DOOM takes care of most production duties himself. With a notable exclusion being the almighty J Dilla anthem “Lightworks,” all swooping synths and broken beats with fiery DOOM raps, as fantastic as it is weird.
But where does ‘BORN LIKE THIS’ fit in amongst DOOM’s considerable cornucopia of releases? I’d say a very respectable fourth, excluding his KMD records. Though it lacks the immediacy of ‘Madvillainy’ and the playful inventiveness of ‘MM..Food’ ‘BORN LIKE THIS’ reveals another more intimate and aggressive dimension to Daniel Dumile’s most intriguing alter ego. And is further reason why DOOM is still the most original voice in hip-hop.