Cartoons are good. Hip hop is good. Why, then, when they’re thrown together, are we disappointed and befuddled? Indie-rap superstar MF Doom teams up with the infamous DJ Danger Mouse in a union of immense potential but disappointing follow-though. Doom is no stranger to working with other big-name artists – he and rapper/producer Madlib released 2004’s critically acclaimed Madvillainy – attempts to make lightning strike twice. But Danger Mouse is no Madlib, and Danger Doom is no Madvillainy.
A cartoonish character in his own right, Donn – who sports a metal mask and frequently uses comic samples on his albums – and Danger Mouse, the infamous mastermind behind the Grey Album (the collaboration between the Beatles and Jay-Z), employ the help of the Cartoon Network smash-hit animation block “Adult Swim” on Danger Doom. Cast members from “Sealab 2021” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” make appearances, as do Harvey Birdman and Space Ghost from their respective eponymous shows. Like most rap albums, there are numerous skits, but these are comedic encounters between the characters rather than the rappers’ banal ramblings. Even so, for listeners who’ve never seen the shows, many of the jokes will be lifeless and dull.
Aside from these guests, Danger Doom recruited rap superstars like Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli and Cee-Lo to spice up to the album. Ghostface drops high-octane, jolting flows on “The Mask,” and Cee-Lo sings the hook on “Benzie Box” with whipped-cream smoothness. Shockingly, Talib’s self-conscious rhymes on “Old School” feel out of place in the mass of Danger Doom‘s jokes and playful attitude.
Even so, MF Doom fails to impress on Danger Doom. His flows are a step up from his latest dose of mediocrity, Mm-Food, but they still don’t live up to the standard set by Vaudeville Villain or Madvillainy. His unorthodox style either hits or misses, but his aim has been off-target on recent releases.
As wretched as MF Doom and DJ Danger Mouse are, relative to their own catalogs, they are still light years ahead of many of their contemporaries. Doom’s awkward, clunky rhymes layered over Danger Mouse’s moderately innovative beats make Danger Doom another surprise hit, animated or not.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars