Viktor Vaughn
VV2: Venomous Villain

Insomniac
2004
D+



here’s a lot to be said for promotion and advertising. As heretical as that phrase is coming from a (*ahem*) music critic, let me explain. Through the hundreds of vapid one-sheets, enlightening little nuggets are sometimes buried in the quagmire of hyperbole. VV2: Venomous Villain’s promotion is a case in point, beginning with “Insomniac Records is holding you over with the second installment in the Viktor Vaughn series.” Despite Doom’s incredible work-rate of late, VV2: Venomous Villain is less the product of prolific output, but instead a mini-album to tide the masses over.

Like a return to Doom’s entry on Prefuse’s Vocal Studies (“Blacklist”), VV2: Venomous Villain takes on a decided electronic tone. Especially with “Pop Quiz (Extra Credit Remix)”, songs follow studiously in the Herren glitch-hop vein with computerized synths, clicks and digitized scratches all making requisite appearances. But despite the production’s penchant for high-end licks as the complement to Doom’s blunted voice, the backing tracks sound neither invigorated nor lively. While Doom verses are still clever as hell, the production undercuts the album. With blemishes like a preciously tinkering piano line in “R.A.P. G.A.M.E.” and cheap-synth horns on “Dope Skill,” VV2: Venomous Villain feels rushed, like a cash-in on name status.

And what would a rushed sounding album be without Kool Keith? He makes his grand entrance on “Dope Skiller”. As a pair, MF Doom has been fondly compared to Keith for his neo-afro-futuristic stream of consciousness lines and wordplay—a comparison that “Dope Skiller” proves is not far off the mark. The song is both a highlight on paper and in execution. Trading absurd battle taunts, Doom begins by spinning a narrative with anvils and “free press on the Nigga-channel.” Keith holds his own and takes defecation as a metaphor. Needless to say, this is classic Keith material.

After the string of incredible releases as Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah and Madvillain, MF Doom has kept his work surprising, twisted and ultimately fresh. Especially with the debut of the Viktor Vaughn alias on Vaudeville Villain, he refracted a selection of off-kilter funk and jagged flows. But did we need a second installment, especially with a turnover of less than a year? VV2: Venomous Villain, sounds like a retreat, like a schizo-ecstatic (and pseudonym) passed up instead for a throw-away sequel.



Reviewed by: Nate De Young

Reviewed on: 2004-08-27

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