KMD - Biography
KMD was a hip hop trio who — along with Brand Nubian — made music in the early ‘90s that was equally inspired by theNative Tongues and the 5 Percent Nation. Today they’re more widely recognized as the launch pad for rapper /producer MF Doom.
KMD were formed in Long Island in 1989 by the London-born, half-Trinidadian/half-Zimbabwean brothers Danielle Dumile (Zev Love X) and Dingilizwe Dumile (DJ Subroc). They briefly featured a rapper going by Jade 1 who soon after joining opted to focus on high school and was replaced by A. Hodge (Onyx the Birthstone Kid). The teenage trio made their recorded debut with a cameo on 3rd Bass’s 1989 single, “The Gas Face.” The exposure brought them to the attention of an A&R rep at Elektra, who signed them and released “Peachfuzz” b/w “Gasface Refill” the following year.
For their full-length debut, Mr. Hood (1991 Elektra) production credit was given to KMD and Stimulated Dummies rather than Subroc because he was underage. It produced two singles, “Nitty Gritty” (featuring Brand Nubian) and “Who Me?” It did reasonably well with consumers and critics, who enjoyed its mix of message and humor.
In 1993, after Onyx left, the group was reduced to a duo consisting of the Dumile brothers who recorded Bl_ck B_st_rds. Tragically, during the album’s production phase, Subroc was struck by a car whilst attempting to cross the Long Island Expressway and died from his injuries. At his funeral, the album was played for those attended. It was scheduled for release in May, 1994. However, in April, having seen Zev Love X’s drawing of a pickaninny hanging at the gallows that was intended to be the artwork, Terri Rossi wrote an editorial that appeared in Billboard claiming the album was offensive to black people and campaigned against the album at the label. The excellent single, “What a Niggy Know?” (featuring MF Grimm) was pulled. Rather than defend the group (whose debut album cover and videos also included and attacked the racist image of blacks) they cancelled its release. For years, the masters were retained by 3rd Bass’s Pete Nice and Dumile, for his part, largely dropped off the grid.
Three years later, in 1997, Bobbito Garcia (a KMD fan who’d worked at Def Jam) released “Dead Bent” through his label, Fondle ‘Em. The rapper was MF Doom, a new alias for Dumile. In 1998, he began regularly rapping at the Nuyorican Poets Café with his face covered. After finding a degree of success with 1999’s Operation Doomsday (which featured collaborations from KMD’s Jade 1, now Rodan of the Monsta Island Czars) Dumile released Bl_ck B_st_rds through his own Metal Face records in 2000. Four years later, when Rodan released Theophany - The Book of Elevations, his former KMD compadre returned the favor.