To my own astonishment RapReviews.com had covered every edition of Metal Fingers (b/k/a MF DOOM) “Special Herbs” series except for Vols. 3 & 4. Out of respect for the late great Daniel Dumile this was a situation I had to rectify right away, so here we are looking at a compilation of his own instrumentation. Unless there’s a posthumous “lost beats” collection (and we all know how people love to cash in on the deceased) this is probably the last time we’ll ever be able to do so.
If you’re a DOOM head it doesn’t take you long to recognize the relation his herbs have to the dishes he used to serve. “Agrimony” for example has the same Otis Redding loop that informs “Guinnesses” from “MM..Food?” You might call it “Blood Root” here, but heads will immediately know it’s the instrumental form of his MF Grimm duet entitled “I Hear Voices.” If there’s a beat that you don’t recognize on first listen, it doesn’t take long streaming a DOOM playlist to come across the exact same melody.
Sometimes it’s not subtle though — not even a little bit. If you’ve listened to “Operation: Doomsday” as many times as I have you’re not going to call the track found here “Galangal Root.” This for all intents and purposes would be the instrumental version on the flip side of the twelve inch single for “Dead Bent.” I don’t even have to imagine a hypothetical release that would contain it — one already exists. Fondle ‘Em Records released it in the late 90’s as the new DOOM persona was picking up steam.
That’s what makes a compilation like “Special Herbs Vols. 3 & 4” challenging. It was worthwhile to preserve these beats for posterity in the 2000’s, and it was certainly Dumile’s right to repackage his own creations with different song titles and new artwork. Now I’m not saying I ever minded buying the same shit twice or I wouldn’t have bought every single “Special Herbs” that he put out, because I was just that determined to support him to the end (which I honestly never thought would end). At the same time when I’m dedicated enough to his catalogue to know “Spikenard” is actually “Popcorn,” it annoys me that a chance to draw attention to an almost lost K.M.D album was wasted by renaming it.
The only odd thing in retrospect is that Dumile either (A.) sat on some of these beats for a long time before they became songs or (B.) already made the songs and released the instrumentals long before their associated raps. Take “Styrax Gum” for example — today you’d know it as “That’s That” from “Born Like This,” but these herbs were special in 2003 and that Dumile album didn’t come out til ’09.
To bring this to a summation, “Special Herbs Vols. 3 & 4” is now a walk down memory lane even if not all of the memories had been made when it first dropped. I’d like to present you with a scenario that you can either accept or disregard at your own discretion — Daniel Dumile never wasted a single thing. If he had a beat he liked, he had a plan to use it eventually. If he had a bar he wrote down or spit at any time, no matter how rough the first take, he’d ultimately put it on wax in some form. For better or worse that’s why I think there’s not much left to release posthumously. He never let anything go unused. That’s just my own supposition though. Enjoy this stroll through his herbal garden at your own leisure.