Nowhere, perhaps, did news of collaborations between scene heavyweight MF Doom and Grey Album architect DJ Danger Mouse hit with as large an impact as it did on message boards across the ever expansive internet. Neither casual fans nor seemingly omnipotent critics knew exactly what to expect, and the concord between the two and Adult Swim on The Mouse and the Mask through many for a proverbial loop.
Members of Adult Swim, the popular mature audience programming block for Cartoon Network, shows Sealab 2021, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, and, most prominently, Aqua Teen Hunger Force surface in brief cameo roles. The most frequent contributor it seems is Master Shake, who leaves irate and desperate messages on the Danger Doom message machine in regard to his potential work with the duo. Such comedic focuses allow for the suppression of a slight gloomy disposition apparent on earlier Doom works.
The album starts with “El Chupa Nibre,” but it really kicks off with Aqua Teen playoff “Sofa King.” BillyWitchDoctor.com teases ATHF fans with an incomplete intro, followed by piping beats and the first signs of Doom’s adroit rhyming proficiency. The track closes out with BillyWitchDoctor.com dictating and the Aqua Teen crew repeating “I Am. Sofa King. We Todd Ed.” Such playful skits lend a light and blithe aura to the whole of the disc. The next track, “The Mask,” progresses from a futuristic chorus to Doom and Wu Tang Clan veteran Ghostface Killah spitting about the mask, leading hopefuls to believe that a coalition between the two is entirely probable in the near future. Fresh beats showcase Talib Kweli’s smooth flow covering cartoons on Saturday mornings and other such trivial items on “Old School.”
The mix of two of hip hop’s most dedicated and able minds assisted by frequent appearances by characters and artists alike produced what very well might be one of the finest discs of 2005. While it answered many questions about the Danger Doom coalition, it created more about a possible Ghost Doom featuring Ghostface Killah and MF Doom. The Mouse and the Mask was not the most innovative disc of the year by far. But for cartoon-themed releases, this record is “number one in the hood, G.”