Jonny’s Jams: Tunes for the tasting

Mm…Food?, MF DOOM, Rhymesayers, 2004

A villain’s gotta eat.

Daniel Dumile is the mastermind behind one of the most intricate characters to ever let loose on the rap world: MF DOOM.  MF DOOM, inspired by the mask clad Marvel villain Doctor Doom, started his villainous rampage in 1999 with the release of Operation: Doomsday.

It’s an early example of what would eventually become DOOM’s signature style: a monotone, lyrically complex flow thick with metaphors and double meanings, and sound collages built around vintage superhero television shows.

In 2004 we meet DOOM, the dastardly villain, as he eats up sweet rhymes on Mm … Food?

On “Beef Rap,” the first track, DOOM raps, “beef rap, could lead to getting teeth capped/Or even a wreath for ma dukes on some grief crap/I suggest you change your diet/It can lead to high blood pressure if you fry it/Or even a stroke, heart attack, heart disease/It ain’t no starting back once arteries start to squeeze.”

Like all the tracks on this album, the title of the song alludes to food.  On an immediate level, DOOM is rapping about the negative  health effects eating beef wreaks on the human body.

DOOM isn’t that easy to crack, however, and his verses usually occupy two meanings at once:  he’s also calling about phony rappers who spend most of their free time taking low-blow potshots against each other and end up “getting teeth capped.”

As for production, apart from the Madlib produced “One Beer” and the PNS produced “Kon Queso,”  DOOM is the sole creative force. The result is like a meal that stretches on a few courses too long. When it’s good, it’s delicious, but the album eventually becomes so overstuffed with sound collage skits that it’s hard to continue.

Don’t that slightly sour flavour put you off, though. For most of the meal, Mm…Food? is scrumptious.

Blue Chips 2, Action Bronson & Party Supplies, Vice Records, 2013

Blue Chips 2 album cover
Blue Chips 2, Action Bronson & Party Supplies, Vice Records, 2013

Before Action Bronson started to rap, he was cook for the New York Mets.  He’s got olive oil coursing through his veins.

Bronson is addicted to food; in fact, he can’t go a song without bragging about his culinary skills.

“Bare handed snatch up a octopus I’m a winner/ Grill it, hit it with olive oil and lemon/Then kiss my fingers, efharisto that was delicious,” he brags on “It Concerns Me.”  I can only think of two people who would brag about snatching an octopus from a tank and grilling it alive: Action Bronson, and Gordon Ramsey.

Blue Chips 2 is Action Bronson’s second collaboration with producers Party Supplies. Blue Chips, released in 2012, treads a lot of the same territory. Bronson’s still bragging, still cooking, still eating. Blue Chips 2 beefs up the food imagery and the boasts some truly impressive production.

Bronson treads a strange line between violent bravado and goofball quirk. Hearing him rap about food never gets old.  He’s “eating chicken parmesan in the holding cell,” while he waits for his lawyer to bail him out on “Practice.” What a life.

The one problem with Bronson is his stiff, unchanging flow. The lyricism is impressive, sure, but Bronson rarely departs from it; there’s none of the spice you’d expect from a man so obsessed with food.

Bronson may not pack the punch himself, but Party Supplies’ production really makes the mixtape enjoyable. The production on this mixtape is nothing short of amazing. The samples are astoundingly eclectic: the third track samples “Tequila” by the Champs in a frenzied, manic beat. while the eighth samples Tracy Chapman’s “Give me One Reason.”

Somehow, Party Supplies manage to craft beats tailored to Action’s stiff flow. And it works. Each track is fun, unpretentious, and extremely cohesive.  Blue Chips 2 isn’t a mere guilty pleasure. It’s a great album.