BELIEVE The Hype (4.5 stars)
, January 2, 2009
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Easily the most highly anticipated underground hip-hop album of the year -- "The Mouse And The Mask" is a flawless record that succeeds at every turn. After the sampling of Danger Doom we heard on the Gorillaz record "Demon Days" ("November Has Come"), fans have been eagerly waiting for the duo to drop a classic. Well, the day finally came, and I'm truly a believer. The always-on-point MF Doom returns to the scene with the enthralling production of DJ Dangermouse. As you've heard, it's a concept album that incorporates the cast of several cartoons from Cartoon Network's [adult swim] series (which includes characters from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Brak & Zorak, Harvey Birdman, the cast of Sealab 2021, and Space Ghost). I originally thought that they would just take samples from these cartoon shows...not so. These are custom samples specifically recorded for this album, which really brings the concept full circle. Overall, the album is quite flawless.
The album starts off with a disappointment on "El Chupa Nibre". The song is excellent; but is rudely interrupted with bleeps from censoring. This song must've been recorded before they knew that they couldn't have a parental advisory album that's promoted by Cartoon Network. Thankfully, there isn't another *bleep* on the rest of the album. Which brings your attention the next track "Sofa King"; which leaves the listener puzzled as to how they got away with this lyric - "I am Sofa King Retard Ed" (say it fast). "The Mask" featuring Ghostface Killah from the Wu-Tang Clan, is definitely one of the best on the album. Dangermouse's production is equally enjoyable. The streak continues with the immaculate "Perfect Hair". "Benzie Box" featuring Cee-Lo and "Old School" featuring Talib Kweli possess something that most MF Doom songs don't - choruses. They work work very well to keep the album flowing. One of my favorites is "A.T.H.F" which boasts some hilarious samples from Meatwad and Karl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Doom spits some crazy wicked rhymes. My favorite track as of now is "No Names" which boasts one of my favorite lyrics - "As a few good men set sights to link with your chick / You have to find a new hen fight to drink your liq / Ten years later, see how Enzyt'll shrink your...wallet". As the album moves along, Doom just settles into the flow beautifully in the last half, bringing the best tracks to the table ("Crosshairs", "Mince Meat", "Bada Bing").
Overall, MF Doom and Dangermouse are in top form, creating something that will be a treasure in both artist's discography for years to come. At 40 minutes in length, the album is stripped of filler, and leaves the listener drooling for more (like most Doom albums). This is an album that is truly deserving of it's hype, and will please fans to great lengths. Definitely one of the best hip-hop album of 2005.