August 18, 2012
Review: JJ DOOM – ‘Keys to the Kuffs’
Masked rapper Doom has not built his cult status on solo efforts alone; he has also proved himself a strong collaborator over the years. Teaming up with the likes of Danger Mouse as DANGERDOOM, or Ghostface Killah as DOOMSTARKS (pattern forming here?), the MC born Daniel Dumile has steadily built a reputation for esoteric and complex rhyme styles coupled with a sly, slightly bitter sense of humour. His latest collaborative project sees Dumile take on the Brainfeeder-type beats of producer/MC Jneiro Jarel as — you guessed it — JJ DOOM.
Keys To The Kuffs is informed strongly by Dumile’s self-imposed exile in London during its creation, with regular snippets of hammed-up cockney screen dialogue dotted around the off-centre jerk of Jarel’s beats. Tracks like ‘Rhymin’ Slang’ and ‘Gov’ner’ — the former an early highlight, the latter’s hook a veiled homage to Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep mockney — further the jellied-eels vibe, while Dumile’s lyrical dexterity has rarely been stronger than on the rapid-fire wordplay of ‘Banished’. Singer Boston Fielder adds some psychedelic soul touches to ‘Bout The Shoes’ as Dumile takes a break, returning for ‘Winter Blues’ — the nearest thing to a love song on any DOOM release.
The expected idiosyncratic references are back (everything from ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ to troublesome Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull), and there are further cameos from the likes of Damon Albarn and Beth Gibbons. Goodie Mob member Khujo brings some dirty south slur to ‘Still Kaps’, while closer ‘Wash Your Hands’ is the best example here of Dumile’s observational wit, preaching good hygiene practice over one of Jarel’s more hypnotic productions.
‘Retarded Fren’ has been doing the blog rounds for a few months (receiving a Thom Yorke & Jonny Greenwood remix in the process), and is one of the album’s stronger, if slightly darker, cuts. Jarel flips an ominous sample into a dimly lit alleyway head-nodder, another example of the strength of production evident throughout Keys To The Kuffs, possibly DOOM’s most attractive collaborative effort to date.
Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON