King Geedorah, a onetime member of the formidable Monsta Island Czars, isn't exactly famous in his own right. Though it's not unheard of for artists release a single album and vanish, Geedorah's story has a twist - he's a side project of Daniel Dumile, hip hop's famed supervillain, MF DOOM.
Take Me To Your Leader differs from DOOM's output in a few ways - firstly, the record dedicates more time to showcasing the skills of Geedorah's entourage, featuring many guest appearances from both MIC members and unaffiliated emcees. This leads into the second difference: the scarcity of Dumile on the mic. Geedorah himself appears on just four of the twelve tracks, an uncharacteristically small amount of time on an already-uncharacteristically short LP. That's not to say there aren't some enduring stylistic hallmarks: TMTYL retains the sample-heavy skits of Operation Doomsday and Mm... Food, borrowing heavily from Toho's vintage Kaiju films to cultivate the feel of a classic monster movie. Whilst these samples form the thematic backbone of the project, Dumile borrows heavily from sources as diverse as vintage hip hop, classic anime, alternative rock, 80s soul and obscure cinematic scores.
In this instalment of the Behind... series, we'll explore the many samples littered throughout TMTYL, identifying and contextualising their place in popular culture.
It's rule number one: keep your fazers on stun. TMTYL opens with a vintage Toho sample before getting straight to the point, diving into the first of King Geedorah's four vocal appearances.
"Follow the light... the light is your guide," announces a curious accent, kickstarting the album. This accented dialogue is taken from Toho's 1965 film, Invasion of Astro-Monster. The picture, the sixth instalment in the then-young Godzilla franchise, was an American-Japanese coproduction.
The second sample - "I am the controller of Planet X" - can be heard at 0:26.
In keeping with the rules of his Special Herbs series, DOOM named the "Fazers" beat "Buckeyes," after the tree of the same name. It was included on Special Herbs Vols. 7 & 8 alongside "Wormwood," the instrumental heard in both "Lockjaw" and "One Smart Nigger."
Whilst it's easy to identify the beat itself, it's more difficult to find exactly what DOOM himself sampled to create it.
With a nod that blurs the line between reference and interpolation, Geedorah invokes the chorus of Phil Collins' 1985 hit single, "Sussudio."
A divisive track in its own right, "Sussudio" was seen by some as a banal and derivative release. Nonetheless, it reached #1 on the Billboard 100.
Geedorah pays tribute to one of the most influential duos in hip hop history by interpolating a lyric off Eric B. and Rakim's landmark debut, Paid In Full: "hit the studio, and I'm paid."
His blink-and-you'll-miss-it reference to title track, "Paid In Full," appears at 1:42. Metal Fingers previously payed tribute to the legendary duo on Operation: Doomsday track "The Mic," which samples heavily from 1988's "Microphone Fiend."
Featuring Biolante - the MIC alias of rapper Kurious - on the mic, "Fastlane" is the first of the Geedorah-produced cuts on which Dumile gives a platform to his emceeing colleagues. Kurious had success his with 1994 debut, A Constipated Monkey, which shares its name with one of Dumile's 1993 KMD tracks. That album is notable for featuring the wax debut of MIC member Jet-Jaguar, AKA. MF Grimm.
A cut centred around MIC member Gigan, known otherwise as Zymeer, "Krazy World" finds him contemplating the complexities of daily life over an oddly beautiful instrumental. Whilst Metal Fingers plays up the tragedy in his words, Gigan talks us through the daily life of a pimp in a crazy world.
A popular group throughout the late 60s and early 70s, The 5th Dimension were a versatile outfit, accruing 31 singles on the Billboard 100. 1967's The Magic Garden, on which "Requiem" appeared, was largely written by Jimmy Webb.
The Toho sample that closes out "Krazy World" is lifted from a scene in 1972's Godzilla vs. Gigan.
Metal Fingers omits the phrase that names the two monsters - "Godzilla and Anguirus" - presumably because it doesn't mention King Ghidorah, though he was present throughout that film.
"The Final Hour"
A fifty-second musical vignette that features Dumile's foremost persona, MF DOOM, on the mic. The masked emcee announces his presence - "Excuse me, villain, you be illin' with the wordplay" - before launching into his all-too-brief first appearance.
A soap opera that run from 1966 to 1971, Dark Shadows found a cult following, and has since inspired novels, magazines, comics and, perhaps most notably, a Tim Burton-helmed box office flop. The score was composed by Bob Corbet, a prolific yet obscure TV composer.
This five-and-a-bit minute skit is the first of three on the album.
The sample that appears at 1:42, beginning "may I hold it," is lifted from Star Trek, season two, episode fifteen: The Trouble With Tribbles. The legendary episode introduces "tribbles," fast-breeding yet adorable pests that overrun the Enterprise. The voice that says "what is it? Why lovely lady..." is none other than George Takei.
Because I can't source a video showing the relevant soundbite, I've linked an episode trailer.
Whilst the "trees" line appears at 10:04, the dialogue beginning "where'd you find these?" appears at 8:48, despite their juxtaposition on "Monster Zero." Metal Fingers cut them as to occur subsequently.
The general chatter at 1:56, and the subsequent dialogue at 1:58 - "I think we should tell-- Jesus Christ, shut up and listen!" - is pulled from the climax of George A. Romero's 1978 masterpiece, Dawn Of The Dead.
Fragments of that film appear in "Fazers," "Monster Zero," "Anti-Matter" and album closer, "The Fine Print." Other Toho samples include dialogue from Godzilla vs. Gigan on "Krazy World" and "Anti-Matter" and elements of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah on "Next Levels."
Perhaps the most essential cut on the record doesn't even feature Geedorah on the mic. "Next Levels" features verses from Lil' Sci, ID 4 Winds and Stahhr, spitting over a classic Metal Fingers vibe. Guest emcee Stahhr previously appeared on Mm... Food cut "Guinnesses," and went on to star in Born Like This track "Still Dope."
The closing dialogue - "we've got a snake to catch!" - is lifted from the seventh episode of the classic Japanese anime Fist of the North Star. Originally a critically lauded manga, it details the exploits of martial arts expert Kenshiro in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Though I couldn't find a stream of the "Next Levels" sound grab, I've linked a scene that showcases the show's notorious violence.
"No Snakes Alive"
"We've got a snake to catch!" - so segues "Next Levels" into another posse cut, the MIC-centric "No Snakes Alive." Starring Jet-Jaguar, the Toho-inspired alter ego of MF Grimm, and Rodan, former member of KMD alongside DOOM, it's more chaotic than its immediate predecessor. Rodan, the most enigmatic of the featured artists, released a sequel to the track on his intense debut, 2004's Theophany: The Book Of Elevations.
The sample underpinning "Star Anis," the Metal Fingers instrumental featured on "No Snakes Alive," is taken from Riichiro Manabe's score to 1973's Godzilla vs. Megalon. The thirteenth Godzilla film, it became one of the most popular instalments in the United States.
The film, like Geedorah's track, features Jet-Jaguar, but neither Rodan nor Ghidorah himself make an appearance.
As the title suggests, the film finds Godzilla fighting (and ultimately besting) King Ghidorah, the monster after which Dumile's persona is named.
Enigmatic in his own right, DOOM's collaborators contribute much mystery to his ever-growing mythos. Chief amongst these mysterious colleagues is Mr. Fantastik, named for Doctor Doom's chief adversary. Though he's appeared on two fan-favourite tracks - "Rapp Snitch Knishes" and "Anti-Matter" - his true identity has remained a mystery for over a decade. On "Anti-Matter," Mr. Fantastik teams up with MF DOOM for another Geedorah-less cut.
Metal Fingers' "Sarsparilla" samples The Whatnauts' "Message From A Black Man." The Baltimore soul group scored a hit with the socially-conscious single in 1970. They're best remembered for their 1970 hit single, "I'll Erase Away Your Pain."
The dialogue that closes the track - "I just can't stand the guy!" - is taken from the English dub of Toho's 1972 film, Godzilla vs. Gigan.
That film featured an appearance from King Ghidorah, though he's not present on this track - Dumile's DOOM takes the reins.
"Take Me To Your Leader"
This skit, the second on the album, doubles as the title track. You might recognise the instrumentation from "The Final Hour," which also made use of Metal Fingers' "Hyssop."
The drawl-coated voice at 0:07 - "hey, I made a funny!" - belongs to none other than Foghorn Leghorn of Looney Tunes fame.
It's taken from The High and The Flighty, a 1956 Merrie Melodies short starring Foghorn, Daffy Duck and the Barnyard Dog. As was expected, all characters were voiced by legendary voice actor and entertainer Mel Blanc. The subsequent mocking agreement is also sourced from the short.
One of the records more esoteric samples is taken from a turn-of-the-century TV advertisement. The Phonics Game, an educational board game and learning tool, was represented by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek in an infomercial campaign.
The sample can be heard at 0:07, in which poster child Jessica laments her bad grades. Metal Fingers, villainous as ever, immediate follows the sample with an exclamation: "stupid!"
"Take Me To Your Leader" boasts more dialogue from Fist of the North Star. The dialogue is taken, at least in part, from the villainous Sergeant Madd, whom Kenshiro battles in the seventh episode.
As sourcing specific dialogue from FOTNS has proven difficult, I've linked a scene featuring Madd from the original Japanese dub,
A one-minute lyrical vignette from featured artist Trunks, "Lockjaw" hinges on verbal intimidation and musical prowess. It also very clearly alludes to Dumile's album contention: "Trunks ain't a rapper, he's a monster from the future..."
Winner is primarily known for Death Wish, a vigilante justice film starring Bronson as a father-turned-avenger. Though adopted from a novel that subtly condemned vigilantism, Winner's Death Wish has been long derided as fascist.
A 1998 Brazilian-French drama film that received critical acclaim on release, it featured a score by Jaques Morelenbaum and Antônio Pinto. Fernanda Montenegro received a nomination for Best Actress, the only Brazilian actress to ever do so.
"One Smart Nigger"
The final skit on the record bridges the space between mournful reflection and unflinching gall. It does so with some of the most scathing socio-political commentary on the album, as Geedorah splices together fragments of dialogue into a huge collage outlining the institutionalised racism and hatred levelled at African-Americans. It's both humourous and earnest, a cut-and-paste monologue that casts Geedorah himself as a saviour to the institutionally maligned.
The second appearance of Metal Fingers' "Wormwood" on the record, "One Smart Nigger" takes an instrumental loop from Michael Winner's The Stone Killer. The sample was previously prominent on "Lockjaw."
Though a reprise of sorts, the track features no emceeing. Instead, it's a mishmash of dialogue samples that paints a grim picture.
Metal Fingers takes two segments of dialogue from the 1974 horror Blaxploitation film, Sugar Hill. The sample appears at 0:09 on "OSM," and at 2:34 and 3:04 in the accompanying Sugar Hill clip.
A story about a photographer who uses zombies to exact revenge on those responsible for her boyfriend's death, it followed similar horror-infused Blaxploitation pictures such as 1972's Blacula and 1973's Scream Blacula Scream.
A swathe of the vocal samples throughout, such as "they claim to be the Army of God...", "stealing our food, taking our women...", and "not much we can do..." are taken from the sixth episode of Fist of the North Star.
Likewise, "God has chosen us to lead us to victory," along with the subsequent reply, is lifted from the seventh episode of the same series. The final fragment of dialogue - "they claim the power of God..." - is taken from the eighth episode.
Fist of the North Star clips are particularly difficult to source, especially given strict copyright practices. What I can supply, however, is a clip from the much-derided 1995 American adaptation.
"The Fine Print"
The final track on the album features Geedorah in his fourth and final appearance. A truly monstrous send off, it finds Geedorah reaffirming his legend whilst also warning humanity off 'fake' music and the consumerism underpinning it. Some of the track's closing soundbites are either unidentified or unavailable online, such as a classic Kids In The Hall sketch that briefly plays during the final sonic collage.
Metal Fingers' instrumental, "Untitled (Meditation)," takes from Bob Sakuma's Gatchaman OST.
An anime series that debuted in 1972, Gatchaman has since become a prominent Japanese franchise, inspiring subsequent series, films and video game appearances.
Metal Fingers lifts the drums from Just-Ice's "That Girl Is A Slut," a track off his 1986 debut, Back to the Old School. Just-Ice was one of the East Coast's earlier gangsta rappers, a fact that's clearly won him respect from Dumile - he's been sampled on KMD's "It Sounded Like a Roc," DOOM's "Kon Karne" and Madvillain's "Supervillain Theme."
The final fragment of Toho dialogue - "we regret that you have not yet complied with our order..." - comes from 1965's Invasion of Astro-Monster.
The voice that heralds the close of the record is the same that opened it on "Fazers": Yoshio Tsuchiya, portraying the Controller of Planet X. The sampled monologue is part of the film's dramatic reveal: that the Xiliens have obtained control of King Ghidorah, Rodan, and Godzilla himself.
In The Name Of King Geedorah!
Coming into its fifteenth year, Take Me To Your Leader still excites as though a recent release. It's a thrilling and engaging listen that holds no pretences - whilst a record such as Madvillainy is partially defined by lofty aspirations, TMTYL is notable for its relative simplicity. The joy of the record comes from the execution of the tried-and-true ideas within.The first instalment in Dumile's most productive and acclaimed artistic era, TMTYL was immediately followed by Madvillainy, Vaudeville Villain, Venomous Villain, Mm.. Food and The Mouse And The Mask.
Understandably overshadowed, Take Me To Your Leader remains one of Dumile's best kept secrets well into its second decade. Whilst it seems unlikely that King Geedorah will ever return to Earth, the devastation he left in his wake will be felt for many years by those who remember.