Focusing on the masked rapper MF Doom, this article uses Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields’s concept of “racecraft” to theorize how the insidious fiction called “race” shapes and reshapes popular “Black” music. Rap is a mode of racecraft that speculatively binds or “crafts” historical musical forms to “natural,” bio-geographical and -cultural traits. The result is a music that counts as authentic and “real” to the degree that it sounds “Black,” on the one hand, and a “Blackness” that naturally expresses itself in rap, on the other. The case of MF Doom illustrates how racialized peoples can appropriate ascriptive practices to craft their own identities against dominant forms of racecraft. The ideological and political work of “race” is not only oppressive but also gives members of subordinated “races” a means of critique, rebellion, and self-affirmation—an ensemble of counter-science fictions. Doom is a remarkable case study in rap and racecraft because when he puts an anonymous metal mask over the social mask that is his ascribed “race,” he unbinds the latter’s ties while simultaneously revealing racecraft’s durability.
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