Viktor Vaughn

VV2: Venomous Villain

(Insomniac; 2004)

By Chet Betz | 8 November 2007

With a movie sample that sounds like it’s talking about Dr. Mabuse, the record begins, a film noir city of breeding shadows and hurly burly alleys springing up on imagination’s canvas. Then the scratches and sound effects of “Viktormizer” laser in, and a descending craft of the future breaks the scene. It moves between monoliths concrete, searching for a haven where it can secretly release its bleak freak out onto the streets. And the title cards tell just who the pilot is: MF Doom’s shadiest persona. “VIKTOR VAUGHN,” the dark script fades out as the following fades in: “IZ… THE VENOMOUS VILLAIN.” The craft settles to the ground, displacing dirty newspapers and a soggy old bum who rubs his eyes awake so he can die of cardiac arrest. A metal door swings down and smacks the ground. A black boot. “VV2!”

The sequel doesn’t get any better than it does on its first real scene; “Back End” streams blips over drum kicks while Vaughn quickly spits, “There’s feds at the door/ Oh, it’s just Fed-Ex/ I thought I heard walkie talkies/ Must have been the redneck neighbors of mine/ They fuckin’ with their CB/ And we on the spot, watching ‘Cops’ on TV.” A seamless transition into the back end of “Back End” brings sea waves for the sleep-deprived, dynamic drum programming, and a cut-up guitar. “Heat the bait/ V came to eat your team steak/ And for dessert, a treat to green cake…”

Venomous Villain’s closest approximation of the minimal wriggle funk of Vik Vaughn’s first sci-fi Superfly romp comes with DiViNCi’s electro-fried beat odyssey “Fall Back/Titty Fat.” Vaughn saves the best lines for last as he mumbles out “Still working out the kinks/ Every time he thinks, his third eye blinks/ It must be in the blood like zinc/ Glassy IV put your CD on jinx,” sending the music glitch-tripping. Vaudeville Villain had an uncharacteristic track in that “Saliva” reeked of RJD2, but that cat’s stench smelled so sweet and perfectly perfumed Vik’s gruff flow. To draw up an incomplete parallel, Venomous Villain throws out the mild piano bop of “R.A.P.G.A.M.E.” with guests Manchild (from everybody’s favorite Christian hip-hop duo Mars Ill) and VV2 executive producer IZ-REAL, who sounds a bit like lower tier Wu-Tang. The song’s entirely pleasant, but unlike “Saliva,” it’s not bold or strong enough to compensate for the feeling that it just doesn’t belong. That feeling lingers on a bit into the next track, “Dope Skill,” which relies upon a repetitive faux-horn blast and features a verse from Carl Kavorkian, one of those dudes that should have all his songs produced by Necro. Like much of the album, the beat’s ultra-synthetic, more Darth Vader than Anakin, but the black plastic’s a wee cheap and the soul is sickly.

Send “Dope Skill” to the ER; bring home “Doper Skiller.“ Inevitable, the meeting of our hero villain and mad doctor Kool Keith. DiViNCi returns to the boards, assaults simple key drama with an ADD armada of cuts, and Vaughn rhymes fantastic: “…We all got our vices/ Some got the gall to call the shots off the dices/ And that’s Vik… Hit ’em with an anvil and trigger a scandal/ If not just to get free press off the nigga channel/ He only plays for high prices/ And rates his hourly rate based on how nice he is.” Kool Keith’s crude carnival roller coaster flow: “You don’t listen enough/ See me pissin’ enough/ Leave you yellow spots around your bed area/ Defecate around your head area…” Hearing these two together is the most natural and wonderful thing on the record. Speculative wet dreams of a full-length collaboration entitled Doom Dooom, co-produced by Kutmasta Kurt and the MF… disrupted by awaking to both rappers having dropped their only verses in just over a minute. An inopportune, albeit decent, scratch jam fills the second half of “Doper Skiller.”

Album’s skyscraper peaks of “Back End” and the front end of “Doper Skiller” past, Vik still comes ill, wasting little time on the oddly calm “Ode to Road Rage” with lines like “Yokel, leave him with his feet danglin’/ Got his degree in stranglin’ and street hagglin’/ You can find him on the beat braggin’/ Then discreetly draggin’ emcees towards the meat wagon/ And lay chicks to the bang bust/ Make ’em kick and slang cuss/ ’Cause to Vik it’s no dang fuss/ It’s just a trickle of lingering hate/ V refuse to be tickled by the fickle finger of fate.” But off the night highway and into the low slum, as the album’s worst cut “Bloody Chain” plods along with an array of semi-interesting sounds that the wretched drum programming can’t hold together. Poison Pen’s verse does the opposite of help, and at four minutes, the album’s worst track is also one of its longest.

IZ-REAL and, not Viktor, but MF Doom rap things up on Analears’ uber-techno remix of “Pop Quiz.” It’s all right, but the fact that the finale has a 40 second verse from Doom sandwiched between two verses from the album’s executive producer, well, that’s just wrong. Because that’s it, the album’s finished at a total of 33 minutes and 12 tracks, four of those being interludes. Eight songs with a party of guests: the only guarantee the album can make is that everyone will want about twice as much rapping from its star. Venomous Villain feels like an EP, and at times, one that’s a little half-assed. There’s plenty of virtually virtuoso moments to make it worthwhile, and Doom just isn’t one to suck no matter how prolific he gets, but this sequel can’t help but disappoint after Vaudeville Villain, one of the very best albums of 2003 and arguably the best thing to feature Doom’s endearing lyrical grumble.

Yet as the vaudeville, venomous villain dashes back into that craft of the future and takes off, the audience hopes he will return for another, a third. And what will it be called? Viktorious Villain, perhaps? That would make the peeps happy, for this is one baddie that most love to root for.