Behind the Scenes of MF DOOM’s New Adult Swim Project
With new beats and a Jay Elec collab, "DOOM fans are gonna freak out!"
You may not have heard of Jason DeMarco, but you’ve heard the music he helped bring to the masses. As senior vice president and creative director at Adult Swim, DeMarco is all about helping the artists he deems worthwhile reach as big an audience as possible. “People who make art for a living are risking a lot. especially in today’s world, where art is so devalued in terms of being able to make a living out of it,” he explains. “I’m just happy if I can contribute in any way to what I consider to be a very brave thing to do for a living.”
As the motor behind Adult Swim’s musical programming, DeMarco’s had a key role in the career of many an artist. He once introduced Killer Mike and El-P to each other, and introduced Adult Swim’s audience to their music, along with the music of many others, through the Adult Swim Singles program and various EPs and compilation projects that have been offered as free downloads. Adult Swim has repeatedly been at the forefront of a rapidly changing music industry, both in a creative and business sense, but DeMarco is not one to gloat over its successes. He prefers to forge ahead, spearheading the next musical project at the network.
“We look like this is all a big plan, while in reality, these are just wonderful relationships with talented people that play out and make us look great,” he says, stifling a laugh. “I’m still kind of amazed at the journey we’ve had with all of these musicians over the years, and are still having.”
The 2017 Adult Swim Singles Program will last 52 weeks, which means it will run well into next year. DeMarco’s latest project will be 15 weeks of all new DOOM tracks, titled The Missing Notebook Rhymes. The first one was released last week, but there are many, many surprises still to be unveiled by the man in the mask.
“DOOM fans are gonna freak out!”
“Every couple years we reach out to DOOM or he reaches out to me, and says, ‘What do you got going on?’” DeMarco says about the metal-faced musician he’s collaborated with over the years. “We like working with him; he’s a genius. And he likes working with us. We pay our bills on time and do what we say we’ll do, and generally don’t behave like a record label. And he’s a fan of our cartoons, so we have a good, ongoing relationship.”
It wasn’t long ago that that relationship led to DeMarco receiving a batch of 15 new DOOM tracks, with the possibility of maybe releasing an EP or something through Adult Swim. “My idea was more: Why don’t we release all this music? Do it over 15 weeks, and have one song a week. People haven’t heard him in years and how great would it be to have one new DOOM song a week for three-and-a-half straight months?’ I said ‘DOOM fans are gonna freak out!’”
The project’s first track, a collaboration with Sean Price titled “Negus,” was indeed met with great fanfare. A day later, the track also saw a release through Sean Price’s posthumous album Imperius Rex. “We wanted to drop the news and let people get excited. Hopefully that gives a boost to not only DOOM, but also Sean Price’s project.”
It also reveals that the project is a compilation of sorts, featuring some tracks DOOM recorded for other people’s albums. “They’re tracks that he either doesn’t have a home for, or they are part of other projects which aren’t necessarily complete, but we can sort of tease them,” says DeMarco. ” It’s sort of a peek at everything he has going on right now.”
“They’re new beats. I have all nine volumes of Special Herbs and I didn’t recognize any of them”
Aside from a lot of solo material, there will also be collaborations with other rappers, including a track with Jay Electronica. “They sound dynamite together,” DeMarco saysexcitedly . “That track will live up to the hype.” But perhaps an even more enticing prospect to his hardcore fans is the fact that, aside from rapper over other producers’ beats, DOOM finally got behind the boards again himself. And he’s not spitting on stuff pulled from his archives either.
“It’s my understanding that they’re new beats. I have all nine volumes of Special Herbs [DOOM’s instrumental series created under the name ‘Metal Fingers’ ] and I didn’t recognize any of them,” DeMarco assures with about 99.9% certainty. “And I know he did some production on these tracks.”
Along with his production skills, DOOM is also bringing a diverse selection of his villainous guises back on these 15 tracks. “Some of them will be DOOM songs, some of them will be Viktor Vaughn, and some of them will be other personas. It’s a tour through DOOM’s mind,” he explains
“He’s a complicated, complex thinker, which is why his rhymes are always so intricate” DeMarco says about the man behind the mask, as he’s gotten to know him in their years working together. “He always carries a notebook with him to write stuff down, but he’s very easy to hang out with. I think he’s a wonderful dude.”
According to Demarco, part of the reason DOOM’s been relatively absent from the scene in recent years is because he’s been working on many projects simultaneously. His absence from the U.S. however, isn’t making things easier either. DOOM was born in the U.K. and moved to the U.S. as a baby, but was denied entry back into his home country after a tour in 2010. “He definitely is traveling, and he definitely has a villainous base,” DeMarco says about the enigmatic rapper. “I don’t think he’d want me to tell you exactly where he is, but he’s not in the U.S.”
“Basically, DOOM is DOOM, and you only know what you know”
Meanwhile, DOOM’s London label Lex Records, which he has been working with ever since The Mouse and the Mask (the album with Danger Mouse that Adult Swim also collaborated on) is advertising this new project to European audiences on Instagram. “He might be planning on some of these tracks to be released as part of a Lex project after we do our run. It wouldn’t surprise me at all,” DeMarco says, though he can’t confirm anything yet.
“Basically, DOOM is DOOM, and you only know what you know, but DOOM trusts us, and we trust DOOM,” DeMarco continues. “All we want as Adult Swim is partner with DOOM, to release this great music for free and be the first please where you get it. After that, he owns the music and can do whatever he wants with it.”
“I’m sure he has lots of irons in lots of fires. He is a super villain after all.”