Chopping It Up With Dus T’, the Animator Behind MF Doom’s “Gas Drawls” Video
Artist discusses how he stumbled onto a project with a hip hop legend
You might not have heard of Dustin “Dus T’” Garcia yet, but the 26-year-old animator from Los Angeles certainly made a name for himself when he aligned it with metal-faced hip hop villain MF Doom. This week, the illustrator’s work was showcased via an awesome animated video for “Gas Drawls,” a cut from MF Doom’s classic debut Operation Doomsday. It’s an exuberant piece of animation, bridging styles from several album sleeves in Doom’s discography, and featuring an exaggerated type of movement reminiscent of classic 1930s animation, if those animators would’ve had Montana paint on their fingertips and worked under a fog of blunts, that is. Time for us to speak to the mastermind behind its creation.
With Doom’s aesthetic being so heavily influenced by classic comic books and cartoons, an animated video seems like an obvious choice. It premiered on Rappcats the very same day that a long-overdue vinyl reissue of the album was announced there, making it seem carefully crafted in tandem. But while the craftsmanship is undeniable, its release was a case of serendipity. Dus T’, moved by his love for hip hop and Doom, started the project as a fan tribute.
“I had posted a short clip of an animation test on my Tumblr that ended up getting a lot of buzz,” Dus T’ explains explains. “Somehow it reached Jeff Jank [the art director] from Stones Throw Records, who told me he dug the video and asked if there was anything he could do to help. The rest is history. What’s wild is that the repress promo was a last minute thing. It just so happened I finished the film shortly after it was announced. The timing was crazy perfect and unexpected.”
With the overall style inspired by artist Jason Jagel’s sleeves for Doom albums MM.. Food, and the reissue of Operation Doomsday, a short bit of KMD live action, and a 3D animation of the King Geedorah sleeve, which in turn leans on Toho’s old school Godzilla films, there are more than a few styles borrowed from in the video. “I love Jason Jagel’s painting style and I really wanted to see it come to life,” he says, adding that the artist “saw the video and gave it his approval.” He likens the borrowing and merging of styles to another discipline in hip hop culture: “I like to think actually me borrowing the artwork is synonymous in spirit as when DJs sampled breaks to create an original songs. My sampling was just done with cartoons. Some artists spin wax, I spin the pen.”
“I really thought hard about how to stitch all these references and images together cohesively. Doom fanatics know that he is very particular and intentional with everything he puts into his craft, and I wanted to do the same. It’s a matter of respect for Doom and Jagel’s work.
Doom tends to work with double entendres, and obscure references to his lyricism. As a hip hop fanatic and a cartoonist, I eat that kind of stuff up and had fun interpreting his work into motion. It was like interpreting a puzzle with art.”
The many nods to the source material that inspired it make the video seem like a natural fit to the song, something that Dus T’ has been missing. “My biggest criticisms with most music videos, past and present, is that most of the visuals don’t match up with the song itself. There’s always exceptions for this, but in the case of Doom and Jagel, I wanted to make sure that everything I put in there was connected to Doom somehow.” He says there are still tidbits and easter eggs that haven’t even been discovered yet. “I would actually recommend to anyone who hasn’t sat and watched the video slow, or frame by frame, to do so. I left a trail of breadcrumbs in there.”
While it’s obvious Dus T’ is a fan of much of the metal-face villain’s discography, the choice to animate “Gas Drawls” was a fairly easy one to make. “To me it’s the track that best represents Doom. Sonically speaking, it’s a perfect balance of old and new hip hop. It carries that classic B-Boy spirit with a new hat. I just felt like it was the perfect song.”
Besides another secretive music video that has been long in the works, the content of which he hints to by saying that “if all goes well, it’ll be pretty beast and it’ll break some serious eggs,” (nudge nudge, wink wink), Dust T’ has drawn a comic book called Tucker Toon, which he calls “a twisted nightmare silent cartoon, spilling like black blood on paper,” and is working on an animation studio with longtime collaborator Lawrence Lindell.
For now though, he can bask in the accolades garnered by a video that started as a humble passion project. “Hip hop has given me spiritual guidance and Doom is living proof that hip hop is an art form beyond the sound. It’s a way of life, and a powerful source of creative energy. All my aim was really, besides Doom himself seeing it, was to give back to the hip hop community.”
That community seems appreciative of his work, and so does the masked master of Latveria himself. “Doom didn’t reach out to me personally, but he has seen the video. His response was very appropriate.
“Kool,” he said.