One of the great scandals in underground hip-hop history also doubled as one of the finest pieces of performance art of the 21st century.
In the mid-2000s, MF DOOM—the silver-tongued MC who dazzled listeners for decades and inspired cult-like devotion—began sending impostors to take his place at shows. He was able to do this because of his trademark mask—a hulking piece of metal that famed graffiti artist Lord Scotch designed by deconstructing a helmet used in the movie Gladiator. Fans would show up expecting DOOM and instead be greeted by a knockoff donning the headgear, rapping his songs.
Early on, audiences couldn’t always tell they were watching a Fauxdeville Villain. But they caught on soon enough, showering boos on the stand-ins (and on the man himself on a few occasions, not realizing he had recently lost weight). DOOM, who understood the concept of kayfabe better than any of his peers, started incorporating the crowd’s disdain into his performances when he did show up.