MF DOOM’s Villainous Wordplay

I will be analyzing the song “Accordion” by hip hop duo Madvillian on their 2004 album Madvilliany. This duo consists of emcee MF DOOM, the underground metal faced villain of the rap game, accompanied with producer Madlib, the dusty fingered crate digger, arguable the most prolific beat maker of all time.

Being the first real track on the album, aside from an intro track, we are given our first look into Madvillian’s grimy, raw, and villainous sound/aesthetic. This song, carrying themes of personal identity and being a rapper that is aging, serves to introduce the listener to MF DOOM and his evil facade, while starting off the album inducing a hypnotic head nod. DOOM opens the track/album delivering these lines with his signature deep voice and sporadic flow,

Living off borrowed time,
the clock ticks faster,
that'll be the hour
they knock the slick blaster

In just the first two lines, DOOM brings lush multidimensional language along with multiple poetic devices. Here, DOOM is saying that as he is aging his life is going by faster, bringing him closer towards death. He then says that when he dies, that’s when people will start playing his music, using the word “knock” to mean play and, “the slick blaster,” referring to himself. He accentuates the theme of aging by using words like “time,” “clock,” and “hour.”

Hey you, don't touch the mic like its AIDS on it, 
It's like the end to the means.
F**ked type of message that sends to the fiends.
That why he bring his own needles,"

Here, DOOM makes a comparison between hip hop heads and drug addicts. He starts these lines by saying wack rappers who glorify drugs and don’t put actual effort into their music, should stay off the mic. He thinks this because it sends a bad message to the “fiends,” or, people who listen to hip hop. DOOM completes this metaphor by saying that’s why he “brings his own needles,” meaning, that’s why he has his own style and puts something real into his music.

As for the title of the track, “Accordion,” this is in reference to the beat which contains a sample of an accordion sounding instrument from off kilter musician Daedelus. DOOM also references the title of the song in one of the last lines,

Slip like Freudian, 
your first and last step
to playing yourself like accordion.

A Freudian slip is a saying that means misspeaking and accidentally exposing yourself or “playing yourself,” so that is what DOOM is referencing here. In this song, MF DOOM uses carefully crafted metaphors and creative language to share with the listener a glimpse into his perplexed and villainous mind.

What is a Door?

Throughout the book Exit West, Saeed and Nadia continuously use these “magical doors” that can transport them anywhere in the world. Now, do these doors exist simply to transport the characters without having to explain their journey? Or, are they a more meaningful recurring motif that symbolizes something greater than just fast traveling? I believe the second. Before the characters actually started using the magic doors they were nothing more than a rumor throughout their city. I thought this represented the false hope that people tend to cling to in times of distress and uncertainty, but when I found out the impossible doors where actually real and important to the story, I was a little surprised.

The actual function of the doors, being able to transport people instantly, could represent how quickly it feels someones life can change if they are immigrating somewhere. In Saeed and Nadia’s case, there was never any down time or real preparation before they ended up in a completely different part of the word, they just walked though a door and appeared somewhere else. The sudden and significant change of moving to somewhere foreign is reflected in these doors. Also, the glorification of these doors is representative of immigrants glorification of the country they are moving to, whether that be because it has better opportunities or is safer. The doors are a very direct symbol to the hopes and feeling surrounding immigration.

Lifeless Life?

Evil Heidkamp’s lecturing brought up some interesting thoughts and questions about life and its meaning. One conclusion we drew is that society as a whole is a social construct and doesn’t add any meaning to life, and the only way to truly live a life of meaning is to free ourselves from these systems. After some discussion, A classmate brought up a question that went something along the lines of: If we live our current lives completely consumed by these “systems,” and we think they give our lives meaning (whether it is illusive or not), what would we be without them? Would we really feel true meaning in our lives, or would we feel nothing at all? I do not think we can answer this question without hypothesizing. I don’t think anyone has ever been able to completely separate themselves from all aspects of society and come back to report how it changed them mentally. So, does what we know in present day society truly give our lives meaning, or are we missing out on what real meaning even is? And is any of this even worth consideration? Or am I just falling victim to Heidkamps brainwashing?

Everyone Has a Boss

From the beginning of the story we are shown a very clear power imbalance between Abnesti and the prisoners. He is in charge of pretty much everything they do. But it isn’t until a very crucial moment in the text that we realize Abnesti is on the lower end of a power imbalance too. When talking to Jeff about him not wanting either girl to receive Darkenfloxx, Abnesti says those results were., “…good enough for me, but apparently not good enough for the Protocol Committee.” Abnesti then changes the experiment, “per the Protocol Committee,” to see how Jeff reacts to each girl under the influence of the Darkenfloxx. This is interesting because we can actually see how this power imbalance is weighing down on Abnesti. When Jeff is incompliant to the new rules of the Protocol Committee Abnesti acts differently than he has the whole story. He shares information about Heather’s past which he “legally can’t,” he tries to bribe Jeff to comply with more time to talk to his mom, and later in the story he curses, and gets the idea to drug Jeff so he will do whatever he wants. All of these actions stem from Abnesti wanting to please the Protocol Committee.