Judging solely on subject matter, today’s hip-hop genre has many villains. That is why it is sometimes refreshing to find an artist whose lyrics are not completely littered with references to expensive jewelry, sexual rendezvous and criminal activity. Artists who depart from these trendy subjects in their rhymes are truly peas in a pod or, better yet, masked villains in disguise. Continuing his comic-book rapper persona, DOOM releases “Unexpected Guests,” an album chock-full of collaborations compiled over the course of his prodigious underground career.
Unlike his past albums, DOOM doesn’t waste time with corny intros and recycled gimmicks at the beginning of the disc. The album opens with “Fly that Knot,” a fiery collaboration with Brooklyn native emcee Talib Kweli, then cuts right into “Sniper Elite,” a sublime tune which features a near perfect synthesis of penetrating lyrics and a brilliant soul-infused beat produced by the late great J. Dilla.
The beats on the album are definitely noteworthy, featuring striking soul-samples peppered with vintage comic-book dialogues to match DOOM’s masked-villain persona, and are sure to keep heads bumping along.
One standout track is “Street Corners (Remix),” which features Wu-Tang natives Masta Ace, GZA, and Inspectah Deck. The song encapsulates a feeling of early ’90s era hip-hop, with four versatile emcees that all hold their own over a resounding beat while they spit about the dangers of growing up in the ghetto.
Despite a vast array of near flawless recordings, longtime fans of DOOM may be disappointed with the release, as all it contains are old tracks from previous DOOM albums. Additionally, DOOM’s lyrics are often times verbose and tiresome, and he gets outshined on many of the tracks, most notably “E.N.Y. House” with Masta Killa.
However, “Unexpected Guests” is, overall, a superior recording, a perfect buy for newcomers to DOOM or fans that just want to revisit a few classic tracks from one of hip-hop’s most enduring and legendary figures. It appears that doomsday is already upon us.