If MF Doom is hip-hop's vaudeville villain then horror/B-movie makeup artist and MC Mr. Dead is rap music's Vincent Price-or maybe its Peter Sellers.
Best known for his absurd cameos on Prince Paul's many side projects, Dead is a man of many different faces. There's Creeqo Valencio, a deranged choreographer in pink leg warmers who hijacks Prince Paul's MTV Diary and Jean Grae's "The Jam" video; Johnny Massengill, the "vaginal crooner" who just wants to keep your pussy clean; and Pimp Daddy Shrimp, an old hustler with a sweet spot for seafood. And don't forget about Peter O'Tool, frontman for over-the-hill soul survivors The Dix, or Manfred Winters, the well-heeled Handsome Boy Modeling School "instructor."
Dead was formerly one half of horrorcore duo Metabolics, which released its debut album The M-Virus on WordSound Recordings in 1998. Following the departure of partner Big Pat, he kept the Metabolics name and released what was essentially his first solo album (though Pat appeared on a handful of tracks), 2001's Vol. 2: Dawn of the Dead. MV3: Dynamic Tension (Raptivism), Dead's first proper solo release, is a chaotic tour of the Brooklyn native's many personas. There's the apocalyptic imagery of "Burial Ground," the straight-up battle rap of "Hostyle Takeover," and the positive messages on "Love One''s Self." Johnny Massengill and Pimp Daddy Shrimp appear, contributing the hilarious "Sweet Lady" and "Return of the Pimp Daddy Shrimp," respectively.
"Besides the strange hairdos, the things all those characters have in common is they're off-the-top," Dead explains, arriving for an interview at Brooklyn's Broadway Junction subway station with his 11-year-old son "Little Dead" in tow. "Everything I do is very not planned and very sporadic."
Dead, who landed his first movie job designing creatures for the Troma Pictures flick Sgt. Kabukiman NYPD back in 1991, is also finalizing plans to direct his own horror film, Four Sides, with frequent collaborator Ryan Monihan (who directed the "Dynamic Tension" video).
"[The movie is] about this single woman trying to overcome tribulations and a tenant in the basement of her new apartment building, played by me, who has four sides and all four are sick," Dead says. "Rufus and Becky–me and my wife, Nakir-are the comic relief. Rufus is an older, weed-smoking type of guy with greasy, slicked-back hair and Becky is a Mary J. Blige fan who always has a fur coat and shades on even when she's cooking."
Dead's next two musical releases also appear headed further towards the deep end: Son of Blowfly, the story of a fatherless rapper who finds out his dad is none other than the X-rated funk legend, will follow Tender Titties Vol. 2, a full EP from Johnny Massengill.
"I've been blessed with the ability to multitask," Dead says. "So I'm open to all venues of entertainment."