clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Chicago artists pay tribute to MF DOOM in murals honoring rapper who died in October

One mural in Logan Square and another in the West Loop memorialize the hip-hop star. ‘I saw him as a creative muse,’ one of the mural artists says.

This new mural near Hubbard Street in the West Loop by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik shows three versions of Daniel Dumile, the late rapper and hip-hop artist better known as MF DOOM.
This new mural near Hubbard Street in the West Loop by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik shows three versions of Daniel Dumile, the late rapper and hip-hop artist better known as MF DOOM.
Provided

When most of the world learned in December that Daniel Dumile — the rapper and hip-hop artist known as MF DOOM — had died months earlier at 49, shocked fans went into mourning.

And, in Logan Square and the West Loop, street artists got to work, creating murals memorializing the British American performer.

Added to the vast assemblage of public art that already lined Hubbard Street was a 12-by-70-feet mural that artist Rahmaan Statik says aims to provide a look at the “human side” of the rapper.

The word “DOOM” floats across the background of the right side of this mural by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.
The word “DOOM” floats across the background of the right side of this mural by Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik.
Provided

“Society changes us into these characters that make our legacy and what we’re known for,” says Statik, 40. “It’s the plight of an artist.”

With his poetic lyrics and samples from movies and other media, Dumile’s style set him apart from other rappers in the early 2000s. Though best-known for his masked persona of MF DOOM, Dumile got his start in music in the 1990s hip-hop trio KMD. Statik, then a college student, has been hooked on his music ever since.

Set against a pink-and-red background in the West Loop mural are two versions of Dumile at different points in his career. The first has him in KMD. The second is of MF DOOM in his signature mask.

A closeup of Rahmaan Statik’s mural near Hubbard and Green streets in the West Loop. This figure is Doctor Doom, a character from Marvel comic books and inspiration for artist MF DOOM’s persona.
A closeup of Rahmaan Statik’s mural near Hubbard and Green streets in the West Loop. This figure is Doctor Doom, a character from Marvel comic books and inspiration for artist MF DOOM’s persona.
Provided

The mural shows the inspiration for the persona: Doctor Doom, a character from the Marvel comics.

Rahmaan Statik, 40, says he was inspired to be an artist in part by MF DOOM. Statik recently painted a mural of the late rapper near Hubbard and Green streets.
Rahmaan Statik, 40, says he was inspired to be an artist in part by MF DOOM. Statik recently painted a mural of the late rapper near Hubbard and Green streets.
Provided

Statik spent three weeks battling wind, snow and ice to complete his tribute near Hubbard and Green streets.

He says showing multiple versions of Dumile shows “the rise of DOOM wasn’t a singular event.”

Statik credits MF DOOM with inspiring him to become an artist.

“I wasn’t inspired to become a rapper, but it pushed me deeper into my own work as a visual artist,” he says. “I saw him as a creative muse.”

Statik’s piece was a collaboration with the B_Line Project, a nonprofit arts initiative. Nearby you can see murals honoring dead artists Frankie Knuckles and Juice WRLD.

Near Fullerton and Milwaukee avenues is another tribute to MF DOOM, this one by James Spurgeon, an artist who goes by Graffiti Nerd.

A closeup view of Chicago artist James Spurgeon’s MF DOOM mural in Logan Square.
A closeup view of Chicago artist James Spurgeon’s MF DOOM mural in Logan Square.
Provided

Spurgeon says he was a “big fan” of the late rapper and started work on the mural after being contacted by the coordinators of Project Logan — a graffiti-art permission wall in Logan Square with a rotating selection of art.

James Spurgeon, 47, knew about MF DOOM’s history as a graffiti artist and considered him a “brother in paint.” Spurgeon, who just painted a mural of the rapper, is seen here wearing his MF DOOM hat.
James Spurgeon, 47, knew about MF DOOM’s history as a graffiti artist and considered him a “brother in paint.” Spurgeon, who just painted a mural of the rapper, is seen here wearing his MF DOOM hat.
Provided

The mural is centered around a closeup of Dumile in his MF DOOM mask. A bottle of liquor next to his head is being poured out — an homage, Spurgeon says, to the practice of pouring out some liquor as a sign of respect for the dead.

Spurgeon is 47, lives in West Rogers Park and has been doing graffiti art for 30 years. He wrote the words “Nerd” and “DOOM” to the left and right in graffiti “wildstyle” with cubist and abstract influences.

Beside being an acclaimed rapper, Dumile was a “brother in paint,” Spurgeon says. “DOOM was a graffiti artist himself.”

While putting up the mural in early January, Spurgeon says all sorts of people would come over to take a photo. He wasn’t surprised at the interest in MF DOOM.

“When he put on the mask, you listen to his lyrics, not his personality or clothes,” Spurgeon says. “It was about staying true to hip-hop’s roots.”

Uptown-raised artist James Spurgeon incorporated graffiti “wildstyle,” cubism and abstract influences in his mural of the late rapper and hip-hop artist MF DOOM.
Uptown-raised artist James Spurgeon incorporated graffiti “wildstyle,” cubism and abstract influences in his mural of the late rapper and hip-hop artist MF DOOM.
Provided
Click on the map below for a selection of Chicago-area murals

Murals and Mosaics

‘Eyesore’ garage behind a fast-food joint in Beverly is now a haven of street art

Murals and Mosaics

For Milwaukee Avenue mural, here’s what you get when 2 artists meld different styles

Murals and Mosaics

Daniel Shoykhet is trying to fool you with his Hubbard Street mural’s optical illusions

View all stories in Murals and Mosaics