x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Album Review: JJ Doom's Key to the Kuffs

His first collaboration with the alt hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel, Key to the Kuffs is a sly tribute to the city of DOOM's birth - London.

The mask-wearing rapper DOOM has long been the subject of mystery and rumour. These have included reports that he employed doubles to stand in for him at live shows and that he spent time sleeping on the streets of Atlanta. But one unlikely sounding story - that the gravel-voiced American rapper was born a Londoner - is addressed on his latest LP. His first collaboration with the alt hip-hop producer Jneiro Jarel (the "JJ" of the moniker), Key to the Kuffs is a sly tribute to the city of DOOM's birth. Take the meandering Guv'nor, on which the rapper imitates a British accent (without much success), or the synthy Rhyming Slang, which name-checks the cockney patois. Then there are the guest vocalists, which include the Gorillaz main man Damon Albarn on the pulsating number Bite That Thong, and Portishead's ghostly voiced singer Beth Gibbons on the guitar-led GMO. With its glitchy production, the record is more offbeat and elusive than previous collaborations Madvillainy and Danger Doom, but with rhymes sounding as tightly crafted as ever, it proves the rapper is in a lyrical league of his own - wherever he may come from.

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