Rumoured to be stranded in the UK for the past two years after visa issues upon trying to re-enter the US, DOOM's latest pairing is with leftfield hip-hop maverick Jneiro Jarel. Recorded in south London, then later finalised in Jarel's New Orleans studio, Key to the Kuffs collates 15 UK-inspired tracks that weave cockney colloquialisms and other British references through an animated tapestry of off-kilter percussion. After an obfuscating intro formed from quintessentially East End quips, the album gets underway with the low-slung jazztronica of "Guv'nor." Following on, DOOM's appearance on Gorillaz's 2008 sophomore Demon Days is repaid, as Damon Albarn becomes the first guest vocalist to subtly crop up, with a typically deadpan contribution towards "Bite the Thong." Adding a further sense of occasion, Portishead's Beth Gibbons appears on "GMO," while Goodie Mob's Khujo takes the lead on "Still Kaps." Despite the well-worked delivery of these understated cameos, the album's most impacting moments come in the form of "Dawg Friendly," "Rhymin Slang" and "Winter Blues," which find the masked goon uncharacteristically navel-gazing.
In terms of the prospect of a DOOM collaboration in 2012, it's probably fair to say most asked last year would have welcomed the arrival of the delayed sequel to '04's Madvillainy alongside Madlib. However, Dumile's offbeat mantle with Jarel manifests in a cerebral romp that brims with madcap invention. By no means without flaw—perhaps 11 or 12 tracks as opposed to 15 would have streamlined the overall package—Key to the Kuffs certainly finds one of underground music's true antiheros in irresistibly infectious form.