Unsung Heroes: Diverse
The inexplicable absence of artist Diverse from the hip-hop scene has left many bewildered. In this Unsung Heroes,...
While MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumile) is highly regarded as one of the most inimitable figures in hip-hop, part of his legacy also lies within his collaborative work and in his eccentric half-dozen alter egos. Of those experimental projects, his partnership with Danger Mouse (born Brian Burton) is one of the most celebrated. Their debut project, The Mouse and the Mask, was released to critical acclaim in 2005, utilizing the collective moniker DANGER DOOM. The project was released in the UK through Lex Records, as well as in the United States through punk label Epitaph Records, marking the latter imprint's third foray into hip-hop. Best known for his work with the Gorillaz, Beck, the Black Keys, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Grammy Award-winning producer Danger Mouse handled the instrumentation, while DOOM focused on the animated vocals and eccentric lyrical direction. For DANGER DOOM‘s debut, Danger Mouse chose to sample exclusively from various animated shows airing on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's late-night programming block—with a handful of cartoon characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force making appearances on the album, in addition to the likes of Cee-Lo Green, Talib Kweli, and Ghostface Killah. With support from the network and famed comedian Dave Chappelle alike, the project was released in October 2005 and quickly became a cult fan favorite. While the album sparked several noteworthy talking points, MF DOOM's diss against his former collaborator, MF Grimm, undeniably stood out. The Monsta Island Czars (M.I.C.) member later responded with the track "Book of Daniel," during which he accused DOOM of selling out. With many hailing the seemingly unlikely pairing of MF DOOM and Danger Mouse as an undeniable success, DANGER DOOM delivered once again the following year, releasing their 2006 EP, Occult Hymn, exclusively though AdultSwim.com. Although DANGER DOOM has not reunited since 2006, their small-but-impactful body of work remains heralded as one of the most experimental and pleasantly absurdist collaborations to come out of the 2000s.
El-P (born Jaime Meline and originally known as El Producto) is a heavyweight producer-turned-rapper with over two decades working in the music industry. Growing up as the son of the jazz pianist Harry Keyes, young El-P was inspired to pursue a career in music of his own. That passion was congealed even more so after being expelled from several schools in New York City for having an issue with authority. The Brooklyn-born artist first got his start with Company Flow, a duo he formed alongside Mr. Len and later Bigg Jus, going on to secure a label deal with Rawkus Records and releasing their full-length debut Funcrusher Plus in 1997. Following a series of headaches at the label, El-P broke away to form his own imprint Definitive Jux, securing critically acclaimed releases such as Aesop Rock's Labor Days and Cannibal Ox's The Cold Vein (which El-P also produced), allowing the label to Rise to prominence. Balancing his career as both the head of the independent label and as a solo artist proved to work in El-P's favor, with his work ethic mixed with his hunger for creating music helping to sculpt his reputation as an innovative creator and businessman. As a producer, El-P is revered for his futuristic tendencies, drawing from his love for lo-fi sounds and his jazz influences alike. As a lyrical force, the rapper often questions the status quo and explores themes of existentialism, politics, paranoia, the nature of reality, and other topics commonly found in science fiction. With his latest venture Run the Jewels—supergroup formed along with Killer Mike in 2013—elevating his career to newfound levels of success, El-P is regarded as one of hip-hop's most vibrant and brilliant contributors.