In 1997 he reappeared with the single “Dead Bent”, his first song under the name Metal Face Doom. (The persona was a nod to Marvel villain Doctor Doom.) Around the time the album Operation: Doomsday was released in 1999, which featured a masked figure on the cover, he first began to cover his face in public hide with a stocking mask and later with the metal mask that became his signature.
In a 2009 interview with The New Yorker, Mr Dumile said the mask was necessary when he made the jump from the studio to the stage. “I wanted to go on stage and talk without people thinking about the normal things people think about,” he said. “A picture always makes a first impression. But if there was a first impression, I might as well use it to control the story. So why not put on something like a mask? “
Mr. Dumile’s albums, once an underground cult figure, made him better known in the mid-1980s. “Madvillainy”, released in 2004 with producer Madlib, was a breakthrough. “It delivers long, freely associative verse full of sideways jumps and unexpected twists,” wrote popular music critic Kelefa Sanneh in the New York Times, reviewing a 2004 concert. “You think you know where it’s going and what each sentence will mean when it ends. Then it bends. “
On “Raid”, a track from “Madvillainy”, he rhymes:
Trippin ‘, to this day the Metal Fellow has rippin’ flows
Since New York plates were ghetto yellow
With broken blue font, that’s too exciting
People skip the show and really feel enlightened
His album “MM .. FOOD” (an anagram of his artist name), released in the same year, contained titles such as “Gumbo”, “Kon Queso” and “Kon Karne”. In 2004, when Mr Dumile raped the apparently banal subject of food with stupidity and wit, he said to Spin that he “shows respect for human life”.
“I’m more of a writer than a freestyler,” Dumile told The Chicago Tribune that same year. “I like to design my things and consider myself an author.”