Madlib has spoken about the death of MF DOOM in a new interview with Piotr Orlov for NPR Music. The news of the rapper’s death in October 2020 was announced at the end of last year, which is when Madlib says he first heard about it, too. “I found out when everybody else did, on social media,” he said. “His family’s very private, so they probably didn’t know how to approach that one. I still can’t believe that he died. That’s weird.”
The prolific producer, who collaborated with DOOM on 2004’s underground hip-hop masterpiece Madvillainy, said that he was in intermittently in touch with DOOM as late as last year. “We talked like once or twice a year, but that’s how it’s always been. We talked last year and everything seemed fine,” he said. “It was mostly me sending him beats, he rarely sent me stuff. But yeah we checked in, whether it was music or not, talking about our kids or whatever.”
The interview primarily focuses on Madlib’s new album Sound Ancestors, which was arranged by Four Tet and arrives later tonight. Kieran Hebden told NPR that the two considered postponing the release after news of DOOM’s death came to light. “When we heard about [DOOM’s passing], it was all completely shocking,” he said. “Like maybe we just need to put everything on pause for a bit. But maybe [releasing Sound Ancestors] could be quite a positive thing to happen in the middle of it. You know, Dilla’s gone, DOOM’s gone, but Otis [Madlib] is hanging in there, going strong and not giving up. He’s actually got this new album coming out and continuing to keep the spirit of all that music, that whole style where the three of them do feel like this sort of magical superpowered trinity.”
News about MF Doom’s death arrived on December 31 in a statement shared by his wife, Jasmine Dumile. She wrote that the rapper, born Daniel Dumile, had died two months prior on October 31. The news triggered an outpouring of condolences and remembrances, including from Flying Lotus, Thom Yorke, Questlove, and Tyler, the Creator.
Revisit Pitchfork’s 2014 feature “Searching for Tomorrow: The Story of Madlib and DOOM’s Madvillainy” on the Pitch.