I received an email from Paranorm tonight, subject line: “i have really seen it all now”. The body of the email was one simple link, to this MySpace page, where apparently a woman has inked a Mr. Dope America tattoo. That’s a lot of love for a hip hop superhero with one album. Not that he doesn’t deserve it. He does.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the whole story.
Paranorm and Tyrone are friends of mine from Indiana. They moved out here about ten years ago when I was pushing to get Paranorm and Strictnine a 12″ on Grand Royal. Eventually (as in “after many months”) they stopped sleeping in front of the sliding glass door in my living room and found a place on Fountain off of Sunset (where Paranorm still lives and pays the same rent as ten years ago).
As you’d expect when a beat-maker/MC (Paranorm) and DJ (Tyrone) are roommates, 40s are downed and music gets made. Somehow, one of these late nights, billions of particles floating around in space collided and created the Mr. Dope America character, a sensitive, 80s music-loving, singing superhero who will kick your ass. Paranorm took MIDI songs off the Internet, added a few beats here and there, and Tyrone became MDA, Mr. Dope America, singing karaoke-style over the top, with no lyric sheet, sometimes singing the right words and sometimes making them up. The made up words were often about The Fat Boys and Rite-Aid (”they used to call it Thrifty”). Thankfully, the 4-track was rolling.
Initially there were two GENIUS songs, Come On Aileen and Toto’s Africa:
Mr. Dope America – Come On Aileen
Mr. Dope America – Africa
I couldn’t get enough. These tracks were pretty much the funniest thing I’d ever heard. The juxtaposition of 80s pop, lyrics about hip hop (”EPMD made some dope beats” at the end of Come On Aileen?!), and MDA’s actual ability to deliver a tune made these two songs about my favorite thing, ever. I was, without question, MDA’s biggest fan.
So imagine how touched I was when Paranorm and MDA delivered my wedding present in 2002, a FULL LENGTH MDA ALBUM entitled (what else) “Genuine Leather Uppers”. The sheer amount of late nights and beer that went into my gift was staggering. I was brought to tears. The whole album is amazing and available for download from Paranorm’s now-ancient download page. A couple of choice cuts (”Baberaham Lincoln”, Magic Man into Sucka MCs?!) are right here:
Mr. Dope America – Babe
Mr. Dope America – Magic Man
It’s better than Weird Al. But only for a select few of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s on MTV and underground hip hop, I suppose. If you don’t get it, move on. If you get it, you know. You are now hooked on the power of MDA.
This album still ranks among my favorites, ever, and I still considered myself MDA’s biggest fan…until tonight. I do not have an MDA tattoo. This girl does:
I don’t know who she is or why she would do such a thing, but I gotta give her props for getting the joke. Or losing the bet. Whatever it was. Go ‘head, girl. MDA4LIFE!
MDA went on to be the DJ for Scapegoat Wax and the subsequent project with Z-Man, One Block Radius. The One Block record is great. Listen to it here or buy it here. One Block Radius interviewed by Mr. Dope America:
That’s Tyrone in the red. On the right. And in the mask.