(Side Projects, Solo Albums, and Other Detours)
DOOMSTARKS - “Victory Laps”
Rappers love to promise blockbuster collaborations, but they seem to hate actually fulfilling those promises. Sure, every now and then a team-up will actually happen, but those cases are few and far between. For every Watch the Throne, there are a dozen T-Waynes, or EarlWolfs. One rapper, though, is particularly notorious for promising collaborations that never actually end up happening: DOOM.
You want proof? Where’s the new Madvillian record that he’s promised us once a year for the past decade? That’s just the reality of being a fan of Daniel Dumile’s music. You never know if he’s actually gonna do what he says, no matter if it’s actually showing up at a concert or making a full-length collaboration with Ghostface Killah.
And that’s what we’re here to talk about today. Though they’ve been talking about it off and on for nearly three years, all we’ve actually heard from DOOMSTARKS1 is the track above and a “Madvillianz Remix" of it.2 Although I would advise you not to get your hopes up about this project, the track is fairly enticing.
Aside from the simple thrill of hearing these two luminaries spitting rhymes on the same track, “Victory Laps” is a very promising blueprint for DOOMSTARKS. The beat (produced by DOOM himself) is ominous, endlesly striving, and rather RZA-esque, full of murky percussion and ghostly vocal samples. It sounds like getting chased through a dark, foggy alleyway by an unknown pursuer. DOOM and Ghost’s verses are, of course, excellent. DOOM opens with a verse that plays with idea of circles. On particularly inspired line equates the idea of “surround sound” with running laps around an opponent.
While their villain / hero alignment and the general competitiveness of rap might lead you to expect that DOOM’s opponent would be Starks, it’s clearly from the get go that this a “+" collaboration not a "vs." one. There’s a clear camaraderie between the two from the get go, with Ghost throwing in a few ad-libs during DOOM’s verse, and DOOM ending his verse by introducing Ghost. Ghostface’s verse is also worthy of praise, particularly the line about how his "…hits be immaculate and accurate" which is an interior rhyme for the ages.3
After that, DOOM returns for one more knotty, assonance-filled verse that’s full of the unique phrasings and tightly woven rhymes that’s he’s known for. He sounds as locked in as he’s ever been, and he doesn’t get lazy or sloppy with his delivery. I’m tempted to say that he’s making sure he holds his own against Ghost, but I think that one track isn’t enough to make that assessment.
Ultimately though, “Victory Laps” is a bit of empty promise. Each month that passes since July 2011 makes it seem less and less likely that this project will ever see the light of day. As enticing and exciting as this track is, I’m not going to get my hopes up.
But, I’d love to be proved wrong.
1. If you’re not a comic book / Wu Tang fan, their name is a combination of DOOM’s (obviously) and “Tony Starks” a nickname that Ghost has used for years. Both are derived from Marvel Comics characters. DOOM’s is a reference to the villain Doctor Doom who wears a metal mask similar to Dumile’s. “Tony Starks” is a slightly altered form of “Tony Stark” the alter ego of Iron Man.
2. And technically, they’ve been talking about a collaborative album of some form since 2005.
3. He also makes what seems to be a shout out to former Denver Broncos quarterback (and current handball player) Jake Plummer. While it isn’t a great line, Jake the Snake is one of those sports figures that I have an odd amount of affection for, so I really love that reference.