This year had such a nice redemptive arc for DOOM (most recently, of course, known as MF Doom): Beloved underground MC returns after bizarre hiatus, during which he paid impostors to stand in for him on stage, by releasing an excellent comeback album, Born Like This. So it’s a shame that last glimpse we’ll likely get of DOOM this decade is a slight rarities mixtape that collects 17 tracks of less-than-stellar repute of varying states of release (7-inch tracks, production work, etc.). Unexpected Guests is said album, and the latter word should really come underlined, because apart from a handful of verses and an annoying “Doom is as evil as ever” sample, he’s less a part of this than he was his recent live shows.
The idea of a DOOM rarities comp is better in theory than in practice, because while it’s reasonable to assume that the prolific MC would have a shitload of good tracks sitting in his vault, he’s long been padding his albums with middling stuff, leaving what’s here as the best he’s got to offer. The easy highlight is “Da Superfriendz,” a jocular track with Vast Aire that rolls by on a dusty piano beat. “Street Corners (Remix)” is the only other track that sounds like it was recorded in more than seven minutes in between blunt sessions in the studio, but that has more to do with Masta Killa and Inspectah Deck overachieving in a way neither have in more than a decade and GZA popping in the end and destroying the entire album that came before his verse.
The rest of the 15 tracks are of two types: sub-par production work DOOM did for other people (like Masta Killa) or two-minute tracks where DOOM drops a vintage sample, says a few winking pop-culture references and then moves on without consideration. I guess the condolence is that this thing is meant as a party mix (as the “DOOM is evil as ever” sample that pops up every other minute proves), and isn’t meant to be taken as much other than a way to keep DOOM, the most prominent of hip-hop’s true eccentrics, in our thoughts as the year winds down. Even if Unexpected Guests is the least essential DOOM release yet.