Tributes from across the music industry are pouring in to commemorate the death of Daniel Dumile, best known as leftfield hip-hop game changer MF DOOM.
A child of London and New York, Daniel Dumile began his career in hip-hop’s late eighties halcyon days, going on to become one of the most important left-of-mainstream rappers in the twenty-first century.
His death was announced earlier today by his wife Jasmine, who informs us that he ‘transitioned October 31, 2020.’
On October 20 Dumile launched the first set of what would eventually be eleven NFT masks, wearable in augmented reality. Designed in conjunction with digital art platform Illust Space, the masks are all variations of the two-pronged mask MF DOOM was famous for by the time he dropped his sensational Madlib collaboration Madvillainy in 2004.
These masks represent the last creative endeavor (that we know about) from the rapper.
Sabin Hertz, who built the tech behind them, spoke to Decrypt today. He describes each mask as “a collectible piece that can be transferred to the augmented reality space, like a digital collectible that can be utilised in a bunch of different fields.” Owners can port masks between virtual worlds or blow them up in augmented reality, he said, ready for art galleries.
There were eight masks in the first auction, split equally between two different styles, a blue and a green. The second auction had three masks, two of which were ‘Mummy’ style, and the last was a ‘Sludge’ mask that Hertz describes as “the ultimate one-of-a-kind collector’s edition.”
The last auction closed on the day of Dumile’s death. MF DOOM’s foray into NFT collectibles initially left some critics at a loss, but Dumile’s proclivity to anonymity and his constant forward-facing and expansive creative range made him a likely candidate to probe the creative and distributive potential of NFT art.
That the world learns about his passing two months after the fact is very much in keeping Dumile’s enigmatic spirit. He spent most of his career behind his masks, building an aura loosely based on Marvel’s Dr Doom villain. At times, Dumile could stretch his persona beyond established limits of postmodern irony, going so far as to send out imposter MF DOOMs on tour.
The hip-hop world is a smaller place today. Here’s to Dumile, a man who could drop seven syllable Icelandic volcanoes into his verse without batting an eyelid. Rest in power, MF DOOM.