“The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall…”
The comic book supervillain uses a mask to hide his identity from the system and the superhero. After the crime, secrecy is his solace. The superhero also conceals his face from the criminal elements he is opposing, but mostly for the safety of his friends and family because the system supports him.
Times have changed and The Dark Monk from MF DOOM’s Metal Face Akademy operates anonymously because he is speaking truth to power. While mainstream pop artists sing about keeping it real, being an individual and standing up for what you believe in, their integrity evaporates when asked if they support anti-establishment, politically-motivated protest groups like the 99% Movement.
Fortunately, the underground music scene has picked up the slack. True Underlord is set for a February 28th release, and fans of hard-hitting hip-hop with a solid streak of controversial, critical analysis of a modern day society gone Armageddon are going to enjoy this solid debut album.
Produced by MF DOOM, Jake One and Madlib, the emcee known as The Dark Monk opens his mind to let the audience in and see a world where justice has to stay hooded because the real crime lords threatening society’s safety own the banks, manipulate the system and control the police.
In addition to the 2011 ultra popular college radio super hit “Real Terror,” True Underlord features tracks that cut to the truth with surgical precision like “Hyena,” a song that’s a shout out to both the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, and “Nervous,” a slow burning meditation on how life under the gun isn’t games and glamour…it’s courts, cops, ambulances and death for people who aren’t prepared.
A protégé of MF DOOM, The Dark Monk is an emcee who avoids the boisterous claims of many other rappers the scene has no shortage of to focus on the science of composing music with the quiet, dangerous dignity of a ronin from the Tokugawa Era of Japan. Who is he? No one knows, and the his mask says nothing.
While the haters may dismiss the artist’s use of the prop as a gimmick, real scholars know that The Dark Monk is tapping into some very serious culture, history and civilization when he employs it.
For instance, Aztec priests often wore masks during religious ceremonies to inspire the proselyte and invoke the god the ceremony honored.
Back to the samurai, a mempo was a piece of armor designed to cover the face from everything the battlefield had to offer. Designing your mempo in the form of a snarling warrior or screaming devil was just icing.
To the modern day Mexican warriors known as the luche libre, the mask is still a very serious thing indeed. While they might be superstars in the ring, standing up for the common people, during the day they are often normal, blue-collar workers who could get into heavy trouble if society found out about their night job.
The ancient Greeks employed the same tools in their own theater. Before film, before television, before radio, people once gathered together under the stars to celebrate art in the form of songs, rhymes and masks.
Also featuring DJ Kool Akiem (formally of The Micranots) and mixed & mastered at XIL Laboratories by MOBONIX & DJ WESU, True Underlord is more than just a pretty piece of labor. The real super genius of The Dark Monk’s debut album is it's grim message. No matter whom you are, the system sees you as a supervillain, and there’s a camera on every street corner to prove it. One day we may all need a mask to survive.
You can check it out right here.