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Five on it image: MF DOOM via Wikimedia Commons by Possan

Five on it: hello to a new year, farewell to MF DOOM

Our music editor says goodbye to 2020 and the hip-hop legend who left us within it, while rounding up her favourite releases of the week, featuring Jazmine Sullivan, Saweetie and Doja Cat, IAMDDB, Vagabon and more.

08 Jan 2021

It feels weird in the midst of everything to have started a new year. The arbitrary “fresh start” energy seems even more arbitrary right now, but still it feels right to acknowledge that there is a lot we’re leaving behind in 2020.

I imagine like a lot of people, I rang in the new year listening to MF DOOM. On the final day of 2020 the news broke that he had died, and it felt jarring at best – not least upon discovering he had actually left us months before (but also, how fitting for our favourite masked supervillain to have cloaked his own passing).

And so I laid on my bed and listened to Madvillainyin truth, I hadn’t listened to it through in a long time. It is every bit as mindblowing, rich and warm as when I first heard it. DOOM is one of those rappers whose legacy and music is like magic, it’s tangible in your bones, it’s fully incomparable. I spent much of the next few days reading stories about him, watching videos of him, learning about how funny he was, how infuriating he could be, how game changing he was, how much he meant to so many people. DOOM could be so many different things in his artistry, all while pushing hip-hop into a new stratosphere.

It’s important, I think, in times like these, to try hold onto the glimmers of hope and light where we can. To use those glimmers to fuel us, to help us fight where we need to. It’s sad to see someone who meant so much disappear before their time, of course, but we can still hold onto their light and celebrate it. 

So long Daniel Dumile, or MF DOOM. For me at least, his music will help light up this year.

And now here’s our weekly music round-up, Five on it.

Jazmine Sullivan – Heaux Tales

Jazmine Sullivan’s return is every bit as gorgeous as we’d hoped. This new project ebbs and flows with its warm instrumentals, the deft rise and fall of her vocal. Exploring and luxuritating in the multi-faceted power of womanhood, if you listen to one thing this week it has to be this.

Saweetie and Doja Cat – ‘Best Friend’

It’s actually not fair that Saweetie and Doja Cat dropped this when it’s unclear when we will be allowed in cars with mates again. This is the kind of track I want blasting through the speakers in the taxi to the club, me and my best friends yelling along and getting ready to go dance. Also the video is wow.


There’s frantic, untethered energy to this latest track from the Manchester artist. With the humidity of the beat and swathes of siren-like airhorns, it’s all glorious, heady carnival intensity.

Vagabon ft. Courtney Barnett – ‘Reason To Believe’

This makes me feel like I’m in some kind of forest in the States, camping next to a fire and looking up at the stars, yearning for someone I love. There’s something quietly beautiful about the way Vagabon and Courtney’s vocals dance around each other and harmonise, and the gently twanging echo of guitar.

slowthai and A$AP Rocky – ‘MAZZA’

Washed out psychedelic goodness, this collab is lush, strange and slick. slowthai’s second album is coming next month, and I get the feeling it’s going to have more of this somewhat introspective, plaintive energy.

You can follow gal-dem’s new 2021 Five on it playlist on Spotify: