Live from Planet X
F Doom remains the most unassailable character in the pseudo-genre known as “underground hip-hop,” a nebulous term that these days describes a fanbase more than it does an actual sound. The genre is lambasted (often justly) for musical conservatism, for being chained to tradition. Doom’s music sells within these circles, yet his idiosyncratic style seems to run on a different track entirely; he is a wholly original talent pursuing his own particular muse. That said, Doom’s working in a world where his largest group of fans may have been weaned on Wu-Tang Clan and perhaps indie rock, rather than Lil Jon or 50 Cent; Doom stays on his grind regardless, and a live show from “Planet X” is perhaps the best way to keep his name out among kids who don’t much care about freeing Pimp C or who this Saigon character selling mixtapes on Canal Street is.
At its best, this album is a snapshot of Doom’s most creative period, where he’s been dropping albums one-after-the-other, under a variety of guises, and he’s built up quite an oeuvre. Jumping from such Doomsday-era classics as “Gas Drawls” and “Dead Bent” to his recent collaboration with producer Madlib (“Great Day Today,” “Curls,”) this concert is a celebration of the music that makes Doom such an exciting artist today. At the same time, however, it all seems so oddly redundant and unnecessary; an iPod and a couple copies of Doom’s best albums are sufficient to cover the same ground, and the ambient crowd noise adds nothing to the album in the way it does to, say, Tom Waits’ Nighthawks at the Diner. If anything, the live environment makes the album wholly inessential; the sound quality is subpar at best, making it no better than any live bootleg that you might download from the internet.
So what’s the point? Money, most likely. Doom knows his audience, and knows that it’s an audience weaned on LPs, live albums, and rarities collections, not radio singles, mixtapes, and club play. For the discerning hip-hop fan, whatever their musical distribution allegiance, this is a pretty unnecessary (if occasionally interesting) addition to a catalogue already packed with fascinating material. Go get those classic KMD albums instead.
Reviewed by: David Drake
Reviewed on: 2005-05-04