December 3, 2018 Design Thinking
This week we’re discussing how we can learn a thing or two from MF DOOM when it comes to creative storytelling.
“Choose a target, however immaculate. Focus ‘till it manifests, pin-point accurate.” Sounds pretty inspirational, right? The kind of thing that a motivational speaker would put up on their office wall. Is it from a motivational speaker? Some advanced lecturer on creative storytelling?
Well, yes and no. This quote – and many others like it – belongs to MF DOOM, a New York-based rapper. As the name suggests, DOOM dresses like beloved Marvel villain Doctor Doom – which should immediately clue you into how creative the man himself actually is.
Although not a conventional figure to inspire design thinking, DOOM’s entire career revolves around his uncanny ability for creative storytelling. Between his sheer creativity, his awareness of his genre, and his innovative genius, a hardcore and hilarious rap artist is actually a choice option for furthering your creative boundaries – all while hearing some choice tunes.
While rap has one of the worst reps of music genres, it’s also ironically often one of the most creatively challenging. Good rap relies on clever wordplay, and an uncanny sense of timing – two things that also play well into any form of design thinking.
That said, MF DOOM has taken these skills, and kicked them up into overdrive. He’s sampled everything from Michael Jackson to Scooby Doo, and referenced more obscure pop culture than a pub quiz. The lines often have several intertwined meanings to them, which is twice as impressive when you find out that DOOM makes the beats first. It’s often said that you can really get a sense for what DOOM is like from his music – which is probably the most advanced creative storytelling that rap about cereal could possibly be.
Although being creative is maybe the most obvious step of design thinking, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. DOOM is a solid reminder that putting effort into making your creative work distinctive is more than worth the payoff.
A consistent theme of DOOM’s work is his complete rejection of music norms. He’s spoken openly about wanting to avoid being constrained to the ‘tough-guy persona’ that a lot of rap artists get stuck in. Sure, maybe popping on a comic book villain mask and rapping about eccentric topics is an unusual medium for creative storytelling – but it’s effective enough you also kind of respect it.
DOOM’s style is distinctive both due to his unique persona, and his unique sound. Although completely subverting your genre’s norms won’t always work, it’s a clever way to stand out in a crowd if you can manage it. Variation is key, folks – so sayeth Doom.
All this in mind, DOOM’s creative storytelling skills would amount to nothing without him knowing how to use it.
It’s no mistake that MF DOOM also produces a fair share of his solo and collaborative work. It’s because he’s aware of what makes music work, and tweaks it to perfection. While complete creative control isn’t always possible, knowing the ideal way to market your project is never not invaluable.
When a rapper’s work is dissected like classical literature, you know there’s some serious talent on show. So why not channel it into your own, and give it a listen? At worst, you’ve found some premium work jams.
Feeling inspired and want to learn more about abstract creative thinking? How about checking out this article on finding inspiration in the unlikeliest of places or our article on how to develop a playfully empathetic attitude