MF DOOM: A Philosophy Towards Art In The Clout Era
MF DOOM recently passed away and the whole world, including myself, have been mourning the loss of him in this life, but at least we’ll always have his music. DOOM died on October 31st and waited till December 31st to tell us, like the diabolical villain he is. MF DOOM represents the ideal for true artists in the age of clout, that's why he has influenced virtually every creative alive today, whether they know it or not. His grip on the culture was powerful, and he had never really shown his face. DOOM said the reason behind the mask was to allow people the chance to actually experience the music, outside of the celebrity factor.
So much of mainstream music and modern art surrounds the creators celebrity, character and personality. How much money does this person have, what is their personal life like, what do they do in their day to day, what do they wear, eat and drink. A person's brand, marketing and image informs so much of how we enjoy a work. There was no person behind MF DOOM, all you got was this masked character and the music as the storytelling device. He barely did personal interviews, and he would often send people wearing his mask to perform at his concerts. The man did not want to be a celebrity. That wasn’t what he was in the game for.
We’re currently in the clout era so everyone and their mom is fishing for an ounce of fame. We’re all on every social media trying to go viral. Making Tik Toks and Instagram reels, memes and what have you. It's really cool and I’m glad people are having fun with technology. The problem lies in those taking the few extra steps to achieve this clout. It's very obviously a drug. There are people who do some of the most horrendous things humanly possible to get some clout on the internet. Its the Worldstar age of people in Walmart licking unopened ice creams and then putting them back in the fridge during a global pandemic, Tekashi 6ix9ines infamous clout chase antics that got people seriously hurt, killed and imprisoned, and many more things that I have very heavily documented in the past. People have done a bunch of things they would otherwise never do, if it wasn’t for the incentive of views. It's a version of celebrity, without the wealth, and they are willing to put themselves and others in harm's way for it.
People lose themselves in the concept of celebrity and the roles that are outlined in it. That's why a lot of our favourite rappers have to pretend to be rich or irresponsibly tough, they need to meet the criteria of celebrity. It's a certain personality, likeability and cool. You’re almost forced to become a politician to an extent, often curating how you are perceived to fit your context. If you are a tough rapper, you have to play that character in your real life. On the other hand, Hollywood celebrities are rigorously media trained so they can come off in a positive light.
Fame is the most tangible it's ever been, the most fleeting it's ever been, and the most frightening it’s ever been. Any time I tell non black people how frightening the prospect of fame is, they don’t seem to understand what I mean. Fame is marketed as an appealing concept, it's shoved into our brains since we were children that popularity, notoriety and celebrity are positive things that we should aspire towards and to be like. We keep up with celebrity news and fantasize about being admired in that way, about having people care about what we are wearing, being on MTV Cribs, walking down red carpets and being ultra rich.
With the advent of social media fame became accessible, you could get a million views just from recording Charlie biting you. The accessibility made it appealing and attainable, the appeal made it competitive, the competition kept upping the stakes, until we got to our modern day clout chasers. People so willing to attain these clicks, they will do some of the most bewildering things imaginable. Who in their right mind would do these things? This nigga right here is willing to do all that, and more, so he can get them Tik Tok clicks.
I view the prospect of fame as a frightening state of being. First off notoriety can be positive, but millions of people knowing who you are just sounds like a bad move, it will make you paranoid. You’re on the internet, right? Do you see how many psychos there are? That's the real world.
Dave Chappelle, one of the most famous people on the planet, admitted that news outlets publishing how much money he had changed his relationship with other people. He said it made him paranoid and closed off because he was afraid people might want to rob him. Vince Staples has also stated that he begged his label not to announce the fact that he received a record deal on the newspapers, because it was going to draw unwanted attention. XXXTentacion, one of the most talented artists of the last few years, was gunned down, in broad daylight, because he was going to buy a bike and was robbed at gunpoint, in his own city, by people who were tracking him on Instagram. Fame is frightening because it's a target on your back.
Aside from that, fame can be distracting. Just as DOOM thought, our obsession with fame has overridden our care for quality. We tend to not culturally care about quality anymore, and instead focus on popularity, and maybe it's always been that way. If DOOM proves anything, it’s that popularity really doesn’t dictate how great something is, and greatness is measured by the greatness of something's influence as well. DOOM has influenced Drake, Dave Chappelle, Aaron Mcgruder, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Kanye, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, Playboi Carti, various writers, painters, filmmakers, athletes, and quite literally every modern person that is usually put in the conversations of greatest, be it due to critical acclaim or popularity. He shaped culture for 20+ years. DOOM created quality, and his influence proved that some of the great practitioners of crafts understood and appreciated his masterful greatness. DOOM was never a pop star, and he never tried to be. He just wanted to create the illest raps, over the best beat possible, and he succeeded at that.
That's the chase we lose when we focus on the prospects of fame, celebrity, clout and clicks. We force ourselves into occupying these roles of perception and losing grasp of who we are, off social media and off the camera, off the idea of the brand, who we are as people. That's why a lot of these celebrity people end up going crazy. It’s unnatural to live as an extension of yourself, as well as yourself. A lot of these artists start playing characters in the music that they feel they have to live up to, and uphold, they ultimately end up getting themselves in very serious and dangerous predicaments. We all do it to an extent with twitter and Instagram, but many modern artists, and specifically rappers, have been getting themselves seriously hurt and even killed, or imprisoned, doing things to get views on the internet.
A lot of people aren’t focused on making the best music, they’re focused on views. Instagram made the artists able to sell you a lifestyle. People vie for your clicks and attention, kind of like the hunger games. Some people actually create quality work, but many people just go and drink bong water to get clicks. It's just a slippery slope into wackness. It takes your focus from honing and mastering your craft, expressing something real and making something good. The chase of views relegates culture and holds us all back. What DOOM did pushed the culture forward. It inspired millions of people around the world to do something, and try to do it well, and that ultimately pushes culture forward more than anything else. Everything else is a byproduct of just doing, and then attempting to do something great. DOOM understood that's ultimately what should be the goal. Making something great, authentic, timeless and original, everything else is secondary.
To quote the great Flo Milli "Fuck the fame, all I want is them bands"