MF Doom, the mysterious and mythologized masked rapper who turned himself into an underground superstar, has died at 49, his family said in a statement on Thursday. The statement said he died on October 31, though the news hadn't been announced until now.
"The greatest husband, father, teacher, student, business partner, lover and friend I could ever ask for," the rapper's wife, Jasmine Dumile, wrote in a post on the MF Doom Instagram page.
"Thank you for showing how not to be afraid to love and be the best person I could ever be. My world will never be the same without you."
The post did not announce a cause of death.
Doom's label, Rhymesayers Entertainment, tweeted the post and wrote, "With heavy hearts, we share these words from MF DOOM's family." A representative for Stones Throw Records, which released Doom's classic album "Madvillainy," also confirmed the death to CBS News.
Doom, whose real name was Daniel Dumile, was born in London and raised on Long Island. He started his rap career as a teenager in the late 1980s, forming the group KMD with his younger brother, Dingilizwe. But his career cratered in 1993 after his brother was struck and killed by a car and the group's labeled canceled the release of their second album, "Black Bastards."
Dumile disappeared from the scene for years, later saying he was "damn near homeless, walking the streets of Manhattan, sleeping on benches."
He reemerged in the late '90s and had reinvented himself as MF Doom, wearing a metal mask and styling himself as a comic book villain. (The "MF" stands for "Metal Face.") On acclaimed albums like "Operation: Doomsday" and "Madvillainy," a collaboration with the producer Madlib, Doom created his own hip-hop universe of alter egos, inside jokes and free-association rhymes.
Doom shunned the spotlight and shrouded himself in more mystery as his fame grew. He never appeared in public without his mask, and sometimes used so-called "Doomposters" at his concerts — sending out another person in his mask to lip-sync his lyrics before unsuspecting fans.
"Fame never helped the situation," Doom told The New Yorker in a 2009 profile. "Fame, in the streets, is something you don't want."
Doom often vanished for years in between projects, and hadn't released a solo album since "Born Like This" in 2009, though he popped up in various cameos and collaborations over the past decade.
Even in death, Doom pulled one last trick on his audience. Earlier this month a new MF Doom song with the rapper BADBADNOTGOOD came out as part of the "Grand Theft Auto Online" soundtrack. It was one of the few new songs MF Doom released in the past few years, and fans had no idea at the time that he'd been dead for more than six weeks.