|Zev Love X (aka MF Doom) first appeared in 1989 on 3rd Bass' "Gas Face," produced by Prince Paul and featuring Don Newkirk. Prince Paul later remixed the track for 3rd Bass' Cactus Revisited.
1991 saw the release of KMD's full length Mr. Hood. This album is generally overlooked despite the relative success of the single "Peachfuzz" and the appearance of KMD's "Brand Nubian friends" on "Nitty Gritty." This album is extremely sought after by collectors and has recently been reissued in England on vinyl.
KMD was made up of Zev Love X, his brother Subroc, and Onyx. Zev Love X and Subroc combine complicated rhymes with their unique accent, while Onyx is reminiscent of early Phife in delivery but with slightly more complex rhyme patterns. The majority of their rhymes could be classified as "conscious" or "pro-black" along the lines of Brand Nubians, but with a definite emphasis on humor. The production (handled mostly by X and Subroc) has a Native Tongues sound, but with fewer recognizable samples than Three Feet High and Rising or People's Instinctive Travels. The music is catchy but adventurous, taking Prince Paul's 1991 sound a step further. Even so, KMD's only guest production credit is for one song on Prime Minister Pete Nice and Daddy Rich's Dust to Dust.
In 1993, KMD's sophomore album, Black Bastards, is shelved due to conflicts over the cover art (and possibly more). The album is never released, but is highly bootlegged. This album features a maturation in the groups production and lyrics, as well as early collaborations with Kurious, Lord Sear, MF Grimm, and Earthquake, the 300 pound MC.
Shortly thereafter, Subroc dies in a tragic accident and X disappears until 1997, when a mysterious single ("Dead Bent" / "Gas Drawls" / "Hey") appears on New York's tiny Fondle Em record label by a certain MF Doom. The Scooby Doo sampling "Hey" gets a fair amount of attention and the single creates a new interest in KMD's back catalogue. Doom's voice has changed and he comes off as much darker as well as more personal than he was as Zev Love X. His songs inspire a certain nostalgia, due to his frequent reworking of 80s hip hop drum tracks, references to the loss of his brother, and conversational subject matter. Listening to an MF Doom record (like listening to a Lord Finesse record) is like talking to an old friend.
After this first single, Doom introduces Megalon on "Greenbacks" where he contrasts greenbacks as money with the green scaly backs of King Ghidora and his monstrous pals from Monster Island. These songs ("Greenbacks" / "Go with the flow") have an obscure 70s funk feel completely different from earlier funk-sampling hip hop records from either coast. With the release of "Red and Gold" / "The M.I.C." it becomes clear that Doom is reinventing himself with each single. From the grime of "Dead Bent" to the soul of "Go with the Flow" to the combination of cheesy 80s r&b with heavy drums (from the last few bars of Eric B and Rakim's "Microphone Fiend") on "The M.I.C." Doom's production is always surprising and never disappointing. Doom's production for Megalon and MF Grimm pushed boundaries even further, while at the same time attesting to his diversity: Megalon's "One in a million" features faux-Aliyah vocals and the bpms of a techno record while MF Grimm's "Tick Tick" has a super grimy beat that speeds up and slows down seemingly at random. While releasing these singles, Doom also began rereleasing material from the Black Bastards LP.
In 1999 Operation: Doomsday drops out of nowhere to be hailed as the year's most original album by those who actually hear it. In addition to amassing all the tracks from MF Doom's previous singles (often reworked), the album features the return of Kurious on "?" and a Yusef Lateef-sampling Monster Island posse cut. Like Mr. Hood, the album is full of skits that not only form a story but are also interesting and actually stand up to repeated listens. All in all, another brilliant album.
Black Bastards was finally officially released in early 2000 on MF DOOM's own imprint. It should come out soon on vinyl and there will apparently be a new KMD album (featuring Onyx?!?) by the end of the year. MF Doom and MF Grimm will split a gatefold double 12" set due out soon on Brick, which will include a remix of "Operation: Doomsday" by Mr. Jason of the Smut Peddlers; and two non album songs from MF Doom, as well as two new songs from MF Grimm. Also look for LPs from Non Phixion and Greedy Fingers (a remix of "Who you think I am" with reflowed vocals); each has a track from Doom, who has just moved from Manhattan to Atlanta.