MF Doom Interview

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MF Doom, photographed by my wife, Veronika, on Long Beach, Long Island in 1999. He was renting a little room in an old guy’s house; just his bed, clothes and a little bit of music gear.  He didn’t have the mask with him when we did the interview so he wrapped his face in an Ace bandage. I remember him being really warm and humble, and every time I ran into him, he remembered me and treated me like a friend.

DJ Eleven and I did mixtapes for Spitkicker, including one hosted by De La Soul (Spitkicker Collabos Vol 1). We ran into Doom outside the studio after we recorded the De La drops, and I told him what we were doing and he gave me drops right on the street. Later we found out he was there to record Rock co. Kane Flow for The Grind Date.

When MF Grimm got out of jail, Doom introduced us and the three of us had beers in the city a few times. They were so close then, and it felt really special to listen to their stories.

Doom told me the way he recorded the solo songs on Doomsday: he sequenced the beats entirely inside the MPC. Then he would hit play and record himself rapping the song live in one take. And that was it, no stems, no mixing. If he fucked up, he rewound the DAT and started from the top.

ayres bobbito doom

Reading this interview 20 years later, I think my fandom really comes across – I was just excited to share the same air as Daniel Dumile, and I was trying to keep it cool and not embarrass myself.  I love his music so much, especially Operation: Doomsday. That and the Fondle Em singles are perfect art that hit me at exactly the right time. I’ll really miss him both as a musician and a good soul.

Ayres: When I listen to “Operation Doomsday,” I imagine M.F. Doom is this reclusive hermit, traumatized and made bitter by bad record deals. Is that an inaccurate picture?

MF Doom: It sounds accurate, yeah.

What’s the symbolism behind the mask?

A lot of music today is focused on appearance, and what you got and what you pushing, Bentleys and platinum links and all that and has nothing to do with what the music sounds like. So what we bringing it back to is music as an art form, more than the visual side of it. It’s straight up and down raw rhymes and beats with originality.

Why did you pick Doom as an alias?

Really, Doom kind of picked me. Back in the days when I was young or whatever, you got Doom from my last name, so they called me Doom back in the days since I was a shorty, since the last time I can remember, so I just kept it, knowhatimsayin. That’s what all my mans call me, Doom Doom Doom. Zev was another character, see both of them is actually characters, neither one is really me. I’m playing different parts on the albums, especially the M.F. Doom album, I’m narrating it as well as playing the part of Doom. On the KMD albums I was straight up and down playing Zev Love X through the whole thing.

You did the art on the album cover?

Yeah I did the art. All the album covers that we ever did I did the artwork…

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Can you tell the story of the Black Bastards cover?

That’s a long story. To make a long story short, [Elektra Records] kind of fronted, we took all the rights, and we free to do whatever we want to do. Whatever the case was, it’s a bunch of different stories out about it, make no never mind though. To me it wasn’t a loss, we G’d off, actually. I rather not be binded by a major label like that. We have more control over artistic expression, more creative control now than we did then. Being financially and economically in control of the situation, it’s definitely better.

How did CM come together, Constipated Monkeys?

CM, that’s the crew from uptown…

Graff crew?

Graff, we got mad facets to the shit. I used to write, I still write. It consists of artists, musicians, writers. Criminal Minded, get money type shit. I met Jorge when he used to work at Def Jam, and he introduced us to the crew, brought us in the crew.

What do you write?

I write Zev, Zev Love X, I write Doom CM. I want to big up my partners James TOP, KEO. KEO helped me out with the album cover, the coloring. TOP crew, Brooknam.

You use a lot of old 80s R&B records on the Doomsday album, is this a departure from the darker type beats?

The way I was doing it was using shit that I remembered, shit that was the shit when I was in high school. Some of them joints was love song type joints, some was ill hip hop joints from 85, 86. So I wanted to make it like a mixtape sort of, blends from the R&B shit to the hip hop shit, like a blend tape from back then but with rhymes on it. The whole era is caught on that shit, so motherfuckers can listen to it and reminisce on that old school shit.

Yeah, that’s how I feel. Who do you make your records for?

Myself first of all. I have everybody in mind, the whole world. I make it so anybody in the world can understand it and feel it, but I make it for me really.

I don’t have too many more questions…

I’m ready to ask you a question. So what made you interested in interviewing Doom?

It’s a completely different style from everybody else is doing. It seems like everybody wants to sample rare funk records…


…and your shit is smoother and warmer, less about the digging. And the rhyme style is more difficult to comprehend.  The way you put words together…

Yeah it’s still not slacking on the rhymes. That’s good looking then, I like how you caught that shit.

Can I get you to kick a rhyme?

I don’t really feel like rhyming right now… [Laughs] You know what I’m sayin, that shit is like a job, I don’t really be wanting to do it in my spare time. But, niggas will definitely hear something. I’ll give you a cassette of some shit I did like a half hour ago that’s hot off the presses! But that rhyming shit, I don’t like doing it just to do it. That’s like a motherfucker who could walk a tightrope. Every time you see him you be like, yo, you think you could balance on this rope for us! I be ready to chill.

[Laughing] Yeah, I hear that.

Veronika, do you remember Gas Face? That was him on that, ‘you look like your host was a ghost on the grill but still…’ The first record you rhymed on went gold! It had a dope video, too.

The video for that had some conceptual shots, it was like three parts. The first was a dude trying to get a record deal, and the guy behind the desk, what’s that guy’s name? Gilbert Godfried! That was filmed in Russell Simmons’ office at Def Jam, how ironic, right? The second part was like in a classroom with a devil teaching tricknology and how to be deceptive. My part was like a gas station scene, a alleyway scene. That’s when rap was fun back then.

Like the De La Soul videos, it wasn’t like they had Hype Williams on that shit, it wasn’t that slick. It was just the concepts, like when they were riding on the scooter and kids were throwing rocks at them. And the video where they was in the classroom and Mase threw a record and it stuck in that sucker’s head and shit…

That was the Me Myself & I video, I was there when they was filming that shit, that was mad fun!

Now people want to be sittin around with girls, and ice on and shit.

Yeah, it should get back to that raw shit. It’s about the sound and about the visuals, not just thrown together, you know throw the hoes in there, throw the mansion, that shit is like a given. Anybody can do that shit. If you win the lottery, how would you live type shit. But how could you freak the medium?

Did you see The Roots video like that, it was the same style, they had a bunch of girls in a bathtub and it said in the caption “Obligatory Hot Tub Shot?”

Yeah yeah, they was dissin it while they was doin it, that shit was fat! They definitely made the shit known.

Did Subroc’s death have an effect on the music, does that come through on the album?

It had an effect on everything. Musically, now I physically have to do two aspects of the shit. Back then he would do one part and I would do another part and we would have more time to do other shit. I’m taking care of the programming, real technical side of the shit that he did when he was here physically. Other than that it’s still the same, exactly how we would have did it. Cuz he still here in spirit.

It reminds me of SANE SMITH, how one brother passed then the other kept writing both their names next to each other. He took up the slack.

Yeah, exactly like that.

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Note: An MF Doom interview which goes deeper into the KMD years is Brian Coleman’s KMD’s Black Bastards and the Birth of MF Doom

January 25th, 2021Categories: Uncategorized

Bobbito Garcia interview

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This feature originally ran in Shadowbox Magazine, a hip-hop journal which was only published for one or two issues. Other interviews in the magazine: Gift of Gab, Juggaknots, El-P, ESPO and Medusa.  At the time of the interview, Stretch Armstrong had moved on from the Stretch and Bobbito show on WKCR and was spinning on Hot 97, while Bob and Lord Sear continued to play underground music on the CM Famalam show, in the original time slot on WKCR 89.9, Columbia University radio.  In 2015, the documentary Stretch and Bobbito: Radio that Changed Lives was released, and in the last few years, Stretch and Bob have been recording an interview show, released as a podcast on Apple Music.  You can also keep up with Bobbito on Twitter, he stays busy!  Now on to the interview:

When party people go to see Bobbito the Barber spin at a jam, they’d do best to check their expectations at the door. “I bounce all over the place. I like to play shit from the 70s, I like to play shit from the 80s, I like to play shit from the 90s. I like to play shit from 99. When I’m at the club, I really want the people there to have an open mind, and not judge the records by their familiarity, but by their ability to move to them,”

Most famous as host of the seminal Stretch Armstrong Show on WKCR in New York City, Bobbito also owns Fondle ‘Em Records, sells music and clothes at Footwork stores in NYC & Philly, writes a column for Vibe Magazine, and hosts an MC showcase at Nuyorican Poets Cafe. About being voted “Best Hip-Hop Radio Show of All Time” by The Source, Bob says “Me and Stretch and Lord Sear had an incredible run for 8 years, a god blessed 8 years. I don’t know if it was deserved because a lot of their readers don’t remember the shows of the 90s that influenced us.”

Ayres: “Like?”

Bobbito: “The Red Alert shows, the Marley Marl and Pete Rock shows, the Mister Magic shows, the Africa Islam shows, etc. But what me andStretch and Sear were doing was so different from what they did. We took a format and completely stomped on it. We just turned it completely upside down, and I think we changed the way people approached doing hip-hop radio, at least for the nineties decade. I definitely have no problem saying we were the most important hip hop show for the nineties. Especially when you witness the fact that we provided the first opportunity for anybody to hear Nas, Biggie Smalls, Mobb Deep, Black Moon, Mad Skills, and we completely resurrected Kool Keith’s career, Godfather Don’s career; we were the first people to play Souls of Mischief, Artifacts, Company Flow, High and Mighty… all the premier groups of the independent circles were first heard on our show. All the premier groups in the major label circles from New York were premiered on our show. And I hope that a lot of the artists I play now will be the premier artists two or three years from now. On major labels. I think that would be incredible, I hope that happens. There’s a lot of great music that people are missing out on. And it’s a lot different from what’s on radio and video. And the kids that do get to hear it have a special bond with the music because they know the next person on the train doesn’t know who the fuck they’re listening to!”

Do you think you have a lot of power?

“What do you think?” (smiles)

I think you do.

“Of course I do, but I don’t approach it like that. I’m a pretty humble person for the amount of exposure I can give to someone. Stretch used to call me the patron saint of unsigned MCs because if the kid is unsigned, then his best route is to approach me. When I had my Rap Pages column, I really had shit locked – I could write about you, I could put you on the air, and I could put you on the showcase [at Nuyorican Poets]. I don’t look at it as power, I look at it as resources. Because I like helping people. I’m glad I can be in a position to do that. A lot of people now see how much money you can make, and so they go for the big artists. But it’s like I’m not really doing this for the money. It’s nice that I can pay my rent, that I can live off it, but I’ve never had a great desire to be filthy rich. If it happens I’m not going to turn it away, but its not my vision, it’s not my goal.”

Has the independent scene has gotten too big?

“No, it can never get too big. It still caps at 25,000.”

It just seems like a lot of people can get on vinyl.

“Yeah, there’s not as much quality control. In the late eighties, a lot of major labels jumped on the rap bandwagon and there wasn’t much quality control because the people doing A&R weren’t from a hip hop aesthetic, you know, born people, so they would just sign whatever. The same thing is happening now with independents becoming so popular, people just feel like it’s easier to to do it yourself than waiting for someone to sign you. In the early nineties I used to get crazy more demos, now I get crazy more independent releases, whereas if it was six years ago, those cats wouldn’t be pressing their shit up on vinyl, just making cassettes. Which is good in a way because there’s a lot more good records, but its bad in a way because there’s a fucking lot more shit records.”

A lot of independent and freestyle hip-hop is really self-reflexive; (the emcees) are apolitical, they don’t talk about women, they don’t talk about much of anything besides themselves.

“It’s a very insular community. But as with everything else, guys are going to get tired of talking about the same shit. There are a lot of how the pop rap MCs talk about the same independent and unsigned MCs talking about how the pop rap MCs talk about the same thing, and then again all the independent MCS talk about the same thing. Dissing the pop stuff. They’re worse than the pop rappers because they should know better.

It reminds me of news editorials that say “We’re tired of news about Monica Lewinsky.” Then talk about something else!

“Yeah! There’s plenty of other newsworthy stuff out there. Talk about how the Rock Steady Anniversary went. We never get coverage, we get five to seven thousand people from around the globe to gather peacefully. I think that’s a newsworthy story. That it’s been going on for six years without one act of violence.”

Last December [1998], you and Stretch announced that you would no longer be radio partners due to creative differences. Did the split come because he played more Queensbridge, thugged-out rap, and you played more demo tapes?

“That was definitely part of it, he has a penchant for those records. I like a lot of Queensbridge stuff too. I love Mobb Deep and Capone ‘N Noreaga, it’s just not the only thing I like, and continually the artists Stretch would want to book would be that type of artists, and continually I wanted to book the bugged-out, funny, or left-field lyricist type of kids. The kids Stretch has a disdain for, he’d call them the backpack kids. So I would want to bring up Siah and Yeshua da poED and he hates them. And he would want to book acts like The Sporty Thieves… they were cool kids and I liked the instrumental, but lyrically I wasn’t crazy about them. And based on lyrics, which is what is being presented when they come up to the show, I didn’t feel like they were a group that should come up. So we kept going through those types of tugs of war. And what would happen would be that Stretch wouldn’t be there, and he wouldn’t like the stuff I would spin, but I wouldn’t have spun it if he was there.”

“If you know the history of our show, in the early years I would have some advance or demo and I would be like, ‘Stretch, I wanna throw this on’ and he would be like, ‘yeah, go ahead.’ Around 95 he started not liking a lot of the stuff that I liked, so he would just be like, ‘nah, I don’t wanna play it, I don’t want it to be played while I’m here,’ and he started missing the show so often. So I would hold on to the demos, freestyles, and unreleased shit, and the little independent records that I had. Then when he wasn’t there, I would go on and play my shit, and it would be so different from what he would present that listeners started to sense an imbalance between my interests and his interests. And he used to worry that people thought he like Company Flow, or that he liked Juggaknots, the really left field cats, and that’s what it boiled down to. Like, ‘yo, I’m not too crazy about the shit you’re playing and you’re not too crazy about the shit I’m playing.’ It was just the best for both of us, really, and I think for the listeners too, you know. I know there are some kids that listen to Stretch and hate the shit that I play, and there are some kids that hate the shit that Stretch plays. And there are a lot of kids that love both of us. I’ve been having a lot of fun doing the show with Sear, y’know, I’m not sentimental about doing the show with Stretch…”

Don’t you miss the jokes?

“Me and Sear still joke around a lot, we just don’t have someone with a big nose to joke about.” (Laughs)

Did you ever feel awkward substituting for as nice a DJ as Stretch?

“I always felt like the show had to go on, you know what I mean, and I will not front, I started saying “this is my man Cucumber Slice’ on the radio ’cause I didn’t want nobody to know who Cucumber Slice was, ’cause I sucked. Still to this day I don’t feel like I’m up to par as a radio DJ. Definitely early on I would say, ‘DJ Cucumber Slice is on the mix’because I know if I did a train wreck mix it was too embarrassing to let people know it was me. So when I started getting better at blending I would be like, ‘yo, I’m Cucumber Slice. I was proud enough to say it.”

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As his skills developed, Bobbito began to spin parties with a lot greater frequency. But it’s not always easy to rock parties with the records he likes:

“Hip hop is very accessible to people right now, there’s not a lot of people who want to search to hear new music; people go to a club and want to her what’s familiar to them. To me, I have a completely different orientation. I go to a club and I want to hear something I don’t know, I want to go to the DJ and ask him ‘what the fuck are you playing?’ To me, I get a rush when I don’t know the record.”

From a dancer’s point of view?

“From a dancer’s point of view and from a DJ’s point of view. I don’t know if I’m a throwback. When I first started to go to clubs in the eighties, a lot of the songs you heard at the clubs you wouldn’t hear on the radio. That was the whole reason you went to the clubs, as an alternative to the radio. Now clubs are very similar to what’s being played on the radio. Radio affects clubs, but in the 80’s, clubs affected radio. ‘It Takes Two’ was a big record in the club way before commercial radio picked up on it. It’s weird man, every time I spin I’m never
able to hold gigs for more than a couple of months. Either the owner complains because the crowd doesn’t drink enough… you know, cause they’re more like a dancey crowd, or the progressive people don’t come out as much. I’ll be playing progressive records, like album cuts and b-sides, people just don’t respond. I can’t hold a gig. I don’t rely on djing to pay my rent so I can take chances like that. As with the radio show, it took a long time to build a loyal following, I think what I’ve been trying to cultivate as a club DJ will take a long time, but I can feel it happening. When people see me on the street they’re like ‘yo, when is the next time you’re spinning, where are you djing?’ I’m getting a lot of party gigs, a lot out of state and out of country. So I’m starting to feel like there are people out there who appreciate when I play “Youthful Expression’ instead of ‘Can I Kick It’ or play the remix to ‘They Reminisce Over You’ instead of the album version or… whatever other crazy shit I fucking play.”

I remember seeing you play at 2I’s a few years ago…

“2I’s was fun.”

It was a lot of fun.

“People are still talking about that, and that is a perfect example. People were complaining, the owner wasn’t feeling it and he asked me to change my music and I said no, so he said that’s it then, and I said alright.”

To go to a club and hear soul and dance jazz at the beginning of the night, and work it up to old school b-boy records at the end, you don’t hear that much.

“That’s another thing, every time I spin I always try to spin b-boy records cause I’m a member of Rocksteady Crew, I don’t feel comfortable playing a hip hop party and not playing b-boy records. You know what I’m saying, it’s like buying a Playboy and there’s no naked women in there, it’s retarded.”

A lot of underground mcs are making records that reminisce about hip hop in the eighties, like the Arsonists’ “Flashback,” Common’s “Like They Used to Say,” and All Natural’s “Hip Hop History 101.” The Roots, Mos Def, there are so many examples. Can new hip hop capture the energy of the 80’s?

“Of course, I don’t even think it has to try, it does. When good records are made, it captures the energy of any time period of hip-hop. A group like the Arsonists that’s very live performance and melody-oriented is gonna catch the vibe of that period because most of the records that came out then really had no other purpose than to play out at a party, so the records that came out then were party records. In the eighties, people weren’t there in the clubs to be seen, they weren’t there just to bob their heads, they were there to dance. Specifically they were there to be on the train at 4:30 in the morning, drenched in sweat when it was like 15 degrees outside.”

Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives from Saboteur Media on Vimeo.

January 24th, 2021Categories: Uncategorized

Rap Tinders

These imagined Rap Tinders are pretty funny.

November 18th, 2014Categories: Uncategorized


November 11th, 2014Categories: Uncategorized

#TBT Rave Til Infinity

I’ve been ripping classic mix CDs!  Throw these on and reminisce about 2007 blog house warehouse parties:

art by Nick Catchdubs


art by Steve Deniro




art by Steve Deniro

DOWNLOAD  (right click “save target as”) / Tracklist after the jump
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March 19th, 2014Categories: Uncategorized

Props Over Here

I’m the guest on Brooklyn Props talk podcast; listen below or download here.

Brooklyn Props – The DJ Ayres Episode by Brooklyn Radio on Mixcloud

December 30th, 2013Categories: Uncategorized

The Playground Podcast

Here’s a podcast which is both a mix and an interview with some jerk.

Download the episode directly here or subscribe to the Playground Podcast through iTunes

Track listing
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June 25th, 2013Categories: Uncategorized

Cat Scratch

September 24th, 2011Categories: Uncategorized

Help Munchi

Update: Tuesday, March 8

Munchi is still in Hawaii, getting his passport sorted out (it was lost somehow when he blacked out, along with his wallet and phone).  He says he doesn’t need his painkillers as much anymore, which is good, but still gets headaches when he concentrates too much on writing music, so he is sticking to simpler edits for the time being.  He also has some dizziness and occasional memory loss.  He isn’t going to be touring or taking on new projects for a while after he goes home.  But he’s still really happy about all of the support and energized by so many people reaching out, and feeling better every day.

Update: Wednesday, March 2

As you can see, we’ve exceeded the goal for Munchi. Thank you so much to everyone who contributed money and helped get the word out. We’ve bought him a ticket home, his meds are covered, and most importantly he’s in a great mood after seeing so much love and support come in. I think everyone feels that it has been an inspiring couple of days.

As we exceeded our goal, the money is going into an escrow account until we see the hospital bill, which we expect to be astronomical. We plan on getting a health care negotiator to try and get the bill down. I’ve spoken to a lawyer and an accountant and they advised me that this is the right way to do it. On the bright side, once he’s home, he is covered under The Netherlands health care system. There will still be fundraising parties, and all the money will go to Munchi’s bills. Anyone who needs help with logistics, feel free to contact me.  holler /at / djayres /dot/ com

Tuesday, March 1

About two weeks ago, our friend Munchi had a seizure caused by an intracerebral hemorrhage, with no prior history of illness. He is from the Netherlands but was on tour in Hawaii at the time.  He spent 9 hours in a coma and 11 days in the hospital recovering. He has no medical insurance in the US. His medication is expensive and he needs to get back to Rotterdam. Our goal is to pay for his ticket home, get his Hawaiian friends reimbursed for his meds and eventually pay for his hospital bills.  We haven’t seen the bills yet but we imagine $2000 is an extremely conservative estimate as much of that time was spent in ICU.  And this is likely something he will be dealing with for the rest of his life.  We’re asking friends and fans of Munchi to give whatever you can.

March 1st, 2011Categories: Uncategorized


I’ll be playing four nights in Las Vegas at The Cosmopolitan this month. I’m excited because it’s the newest hotel in Vegas, and they are doing a great job with bookings: some recent DJs have been Holy Ghost!, Jubilee, Classixx, Prince Klassen and DJ Mel. Big Boi and the Black Keys are also playing (in the bigger room) while I’m there. Get at me on Twitter if you’re in Vegas!

Thursday, February 17 – 20 2011
The Cosmopolitan
Bond Room
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV

February 8th, 2011Categories: Uncategorized