MF DOOM is known for the mystery around him. He hides his face with a mask, frequently works secretively, and changes his stage-name almost every time he releases anything new. The self-styled mad villain clearly thrives on the mystique and illusion he has managed to build around his stage persona. Apparently, though, he isn?t the only one adding to the mystery.
In 2015, a track surfaced named Books of War. On the track there?s a very minimal beat, accompanied by a haunting sample of some nearly psychedelic, electric guitar sounds from Ros Serey Sothea. This is where the mystery starts. Sothea was a Cambodian singer in the 70?s, during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. She was among a few artists who tried to incorporate Western music and styles into the traditional music scene. For example, she covered Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival with lyrics in Khmer. Sothea was known as ?Queen with the Golden Voice?, a title given to her by the old King of Cambodia. But somewhere in the late 70?s she disappeared. As a result there are many stories as to what her fate might have been. One story holds that she was targeted by the Khmer Rouge because of her Western influences, others claim that she ended up in an agricultural camp and concealed her identity.
The lyrics, luckily, are less mysterious. The track consists of two verses, one from MF DOOM and one from RZA. First up is DOOM?s verse. As we can expect from the mad villain, he plays with his words and delivers complex, funny and clever patterns.
Coco butter on a very ashy day, famWith Ray-Bans on the islands of CaymanOr I?ll break it down for the laymanBain de Soleil for the St Tropez? tanA can of Old Gold, too cold to hold, slow ya roll.
Hardcore DOOM fans will have recognised this verse from It ain?t Nuttin? off The Herbaliser?s 2002 album, Something Wicked this Way Comes.
Similarly, RZA?s part is taken from a pre-existing song too. This time from The Night the Earth Cried from the Gravediggaz. In his verse, RZA drops a history lesson on the first arrival of black men in America.
This dates back to 1555When they captured the first tribe of men and piled them in a penFifty feet highThey took ?em all on the nine thousand mile rideAnd landed on the shore of a place they never seen beforeBut read about this in the ancient books of war
Eventually, Books of War turned out to be a fan edit. The beat actually came from OMEGAH RED (aka PoisonFlowerz) who posted an instrumental album with the great title DOOM is for the Children. But who threw these verses onto the beat? Honestly, I haven?t been able to figure that out. As with a lot of things surrounding MF DOOM, perhaps the mystery is half the fun.