KMD is both an acronym for “Kausing Much Damage” and/or “a positive Kause in a Much Damaged society”, depending on how the group felt on the given day you ask. The Long Island trio made up of Zev Love X, Onyx The Birthstone Kid (who apparently replaced the original member, Rodan, who left before the group got a deal), and Zev Love’s little brother and group deejay, Subroc. KMD would get their first break on a national level after crossing paths with 3rd Bass’ MC Serch, which they were able to parle into a guest appearance from Zev Love X on the classic 3rd Bass joint “Gasface”. Zev’s guest appearance caught the attention of Elektra A&R Dante Ross, which led to KMD inking a deal with said label and the rest is history.
In the spring of 1991 the trio would release their debut album Mr. Hood, which would be the groups only official release, as their follow-up Black Bastards was shelved by Elektra due to its controversial album title and cover art (it was officially released by Sub Verse Music in 2001). Shortly after KMD finished recording Black Bastards, Subroc was struck and killed by a car, which pretty much spelled the end for KMD. While there is still a search party out for Onyx the birthstone kid, Zev Love X would go into deep depression (which I’m sure a lot of it was brought on by the death of his brother), before he would completely reinvent himself and re-emerge as the masked villain MF Doom. Will get to his catalog at a later date, but don’t hold your breathe. But I digress.
Although I am familiar with a few of the songs on the album, today is my first time listening to Mr. Hood in its entirety. Lets see if the wait was worth it or worthless.
Mr. Hood at Piocalles Jewelry/Crackpot – Mr. Hood opens with Zev love X attempting to pawn a bracelet at a jewelry store, when Mr. Hood (who is a caucasian soundbite taken from an old movie) enters the same store to purchase some jewelry for himself, wife, and cousin. After a little dialogue between Zev and Mr. Hood (that even includes Zev asking Mr. Hood for a job), Zev spits one verse over a Johnny Watson’s “Superman Lover” looped instrumental. Zev talks about an acquaintance he’s known since they were snotty nosed kids in head start, who has apparently decided to become a street pharmacist. This one ends with a pretty comical comment from Mr. Hood, and an equally amusing response form MF…I mean, Zev Love X.
Who Me? (With An Answer From Dr. Bert) – I believe this was the first single released on Mr. Hood. Zev spends the length of this one asking the oppressor to whom he’s hurling derogatory terms at (you, nigga!), even though our host is very aware of the answer. But just in case the answer wasn’t clear, Bert from Sesame Street (who apparently went to med school) drops by to answer Zev’s inquiry. I didn’t care for the instrumental or the song for that matter.
Boogie Man – It only takes us three song to hear from (excluding the short verbage he contributed to “Who Me?”) the Robin to Zev Love’s Batman, Onyx the birthstone kid. Onyx could stand to bake a little longer in the oven, because son doesn’t sound ready yet. His flow sounds rushed and his boast are unconvincing (the Boogie Man never seemed so unthreatening), and when coupled with the underwhelming Stimulated Dummies produced instrumental, this song sucked.
Mr. Hood Meets Onyx – Our soundbitten friend Mr. Hood returns, this time taking part in a ranking session with Onyx. Not worth listening to more than once.
Subroc’s Mission – We’ve heard from Zev Love and Onyx, so it only right that Zev’s little brother/KMD’s deejay Subroc gets his own solo joint, right? Instead of your traditional deejay instrumental with scratches, Subroc actually gets behind the mic and spits about his day time job as a barber (he is responsible for the sick “3rdBass” emblem that was cut into the back of MC Serch’s head in the “GasFace” video). Subroc has a decent emcee voice (kind of reminded me of Mr. Long from Black Sheep) but is just a barely average emcee. The instrumental was kind of nice, though.
Humrush – We finally get to hear both emcees (Zev Love and Onyx) rapping on a song together. For all the build up it was quite the let down. Neither emcee impresses nor does the Stimulated Dummies produced instrumental, making them 0 for 2 on Mr. Hood.
Figure of Speech – Zev Love X has definitely come along way as an artist, as he became a much better emcee during his MF Doom years. At this point he was still finding himself, and he sounds like he has a mouth full of marbles on this song, making it difficult to following him to the ditch he’s about to lead you into. Which is probably a good thing for the listener’s safety but not his/her listening experience. Did he take a shot at X-Clan on this one? Oh yeah, the song sucked.
Bananapeel Blues – Zev Love X tries his hand at spoken word over a drunken piano loop that I kind of dig. This one kind of reminded me of Gil Scott Heron’s “H2Ogate Blues” from Winter In America. Definitely worth a listen.
Nitty Gritty – KMD invites Brand Nubian to the stu for this chiper joint. While Nubian sounds miles ahead of their host on this song, it’s still a disappointing output from our Nubian brethren, so you can guess how KMD sounded on this one.
Trial ‘N Error – Zev Love is in battle mode. Next…
Hard Wit No Hoe – If this was recorded after 1997, you would be correct in assuming this song is about easy chicks and hard dicks based on the song title. But this was 91″ and cleverness and wit were still required to hold an audience’s attention. I’m still not clear on what Zev’s story is a metaphor for, as it could be applied to a number of things. Had the instrumental been a little easier on the ears this may have actually been a decent song. But it is what it is.
Mr. Hood Gets A Haircut – I failed to mention that”Subroc’s Mission” begins with Mr. Hood asking Subroc to cut him up. On this skit Mr. Hood returns to Subroc for the haircut he refused him earlier. Subroc agrees to cut him and the two chop it up about beats, rhymes, and life.
808 Man – Huh?
Boy Who Cried Wolf – Zev Love puts a twist on the classic tale as we know it, with his interpretation having the white oppressor as the “wolf” and the “boy” as the black man calling him out for his wrong doings. It was kind of weird to hear MF D- I mean, Zev Love X, operate as a conscious rapper. Don’t get me wrong, I like “conscious” hip-hop, but I’ll take the randomness of MF Doom over the conscious Zev Love X any day of the week. By the way, the song sucked.
Peachfuzz – Ah…the sole reason I had any interest in purchasing Mr. Hood in the first place: Zev and Onyx ride this slick xylophone (the only phone Zev owned at the time) loop like a pony. The duo discuss boys becoming men and how that relates to the ladies acceptance of these changes. Both guys sound a lot more polished then they did on the rest of their output on Mr. Hood to this point. I wonder how Mr. Hood would have sounded if we had more songs that included both emcees, and more instrumentals on the same level as “Peachfuzz”.
Preacher Porkchop – This interlude is useless and way too long.
Soulflexin’ – All three members of KMD get a verse on this one and soul flex what they got. None of them impress on this one, but it was a nice change of pace to hear them all give it that old college try. It is the mediocrity that binds them.
Gasface Refill – KMD decided to close out Mr Hood by revisiting the classic 3rd Bass song that Zev was invited to spit on with his melanin challenged brethren. The results are decent but it would have been kind of nice to hear Pete and Serch contribute a verse on this one. The instrumental doesn’t come close to touching the original, though.
After one complete listen of Mr. Hood I can say with all certainty that my life would have been completely fine without ever hearing it. Zev Love X was still honing his skills, while Onyx was completely forgettable, and Subroc (God bless his soul) was pretty irrelevant. The production (which with the exception of a 2 songs was completely handled by KMD) is lackluster for the most part. The Mr. Hood character who appears at the beginning of the album and makes a few more appearances up until the middle of the album, completely disappears for the second half of the album, leaving me wondering what his purpose on the album was in the first place, and rendering the album concept as an incomplete idea. If you’re a MF Doom Stan/historian and you must have everything in the man’s collection, then buy it used. Everybody else should just track down “Peachfuzz” and enjoy the rest of your life.