THE MOUSE AND THE MASK – A Retrospective

mouse and the mask

During the Great Exile (which needs a blog post in its own right), I clung to anything to distract me from what I lost in Katrina. One of those things was adult swim. I watched a shit pile of whatever they were broadcasting at the time. During that time period, they started promoting what eventually became this album in the bumpers. 

I’ll be honest, prior to these bumpers, I missed out on MF DOOM completely. I am still not sure how this happened, but when he went on his big tear in 2003-2004…I don’t know what I was doing. I know I was listening to a ton of music, including some indie rap stuff, but I just…completely missed one of the best to ever do it. It happens I supposed.

I can’t remember how I got ahold of the record. I remember I didn’t buy it, but I didn’t fully bootleg it either. My best guess is that around that time adult swim was sending swag bags to campuses everywhere. I know I had some ATHF shirts from that. I just remember someone who had it burnt me a copy. 

That era of Katrina Exile was defined by three albums. Kanye West’s Late Registration. The New Pornographer’s Twin Cinema, and THE MOUSE AND THE MASK

For being an album designed to be a cross promotion between adult swim and MF DOOM/Danger Mouse, it did NOT have to be this well made. And it was. Right from the start.

I don’t know if its nostalgia or if its just the brand has a specific sound, but the beats on this record BLEED adult swim bumpers to me. I know Danger Mouse built the beats based off of tracks adult swim had the rights to. But, this is a very smooth album. Very clean beats. Nothing really jarring. You not going to find intense ass EL-P beats here. That legwork is done by MF DOOM. Who is just as strong as he always was. A labyrinth of flow, an attack on the psyche. 

You will also notice all the adult swim plugs here. Lots of ATHF, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and Harvey Birdman characters show up in the album. As a general matter, I am usually against this. But I think its the way that DOOM and Mouse use it makes it work for the most part. I think the only thing that doesn’t always click is the Master Shake calls throughout the record. That definitely loses something as the years go on. 

But, good example of how the shit works is right there on track 2:

This works completely as its own track, divorced from adult swim. Sure it uses the clip from ATHF, but I think its kind of a launching pad. A classic rap sample that DOOM and Mouse build off of. One could argue that the weakest tracks are the direct songs that are about adult swim, but I completely disagree. 

I think MF DOOM as the center planet in this solar system of adult swim is what gives it the ability to stay fresh after this long. It is really hard to fight these bars. The rap game here is strong that the references are less…..corny…than they should be. 

Nothing drags. There really isn’t a dead track here. There are some that aren’t as strong like Bada Bing or Old School Rules, but this album is a complete thought. And god…MF DOOM is one of the best lyricists to ever touch a microphone. Let me highlight my pick for best track on this record. 

This is a fucking incredible track. Straight up ass kicking rhymes and flow. I think all this lyrical, miracle soundcloud assholes WISH they could be MF DOOM. Danger Mouse never steps in the way. Gives him a nice clean platform for MF DOOM to just completely knock it up. You are listening to the alley oop.

MF DOOM was a powerhouse, and anyone will tell you that he will be missed.  Like, you will here a ton of praise over his catalogue, but for me, this record is what I will always be grateful for. Thank you for your service MF DOOM. We will try to take it from here.

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