Special Herbs: The Box Set isn't really a box set, at least not in the proper sense. Yes, it does draw from all ten volumes of the Special Herbs series, but it's not a ten-disc set or anything like that. Rather, it's a two-disc mix CD that includes roughly two-minute snippets of 72 different MF Doom productions. If you're not familiar with the Special Herbs series, know that these are instrumental productions, none of which feature Doom's whimsical raps. That's fine, though, because Doom is just as whimsical a producer as he is a rapper, rarely if ever parading the sort of clichés and motifs that make most commercial rap a color-by-numbers exercise. No, Doom tends to color outside the lines, and often with odd colors that are of questionable source. So mixing together two discs' worth of these productions results in a heady listening experience. Granted, the mixing is rough, but so are the productions, so once you get a few tracks in, you barely notice the sometimes abrupt transitions. Plus, there's a bonus disc here: a third disc comprised of "10 secret herbs & spices from the KMD kitchen" that boasts a few really amazing productions. This bonus disc is unmixed, and the tracks play out to full length, which generally is in the four-minute range. In total, Special Herbs: The Box Set is sure to delight MF Doom fans -- old and new alike -- and it's a perfect series primer for anyone curious about these so-called "special herbs" that Doom has grown in his secret studio lair. And given Doom's concurrently rising profile, due to his work with Danger Mouse (with whom he collaborated as Danger Doom, to much critical notice), the release of Special Herbs is especially timely, as it offers those not yet in the know a good starting point to begin exploring the labyrinthine MF Doom catalog in all of its wonderful weirdness.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2
Track Listing - Disc 3