Czarface is the an underground hip-hop super group made up of producer 7L, rapper Esoteric, and legendary Wu-Tang MC, Inspectah Deck. They debuted in 2013 with a self-titled record followed by Every Hero Needs a Villain two years later, both on Brick Records. They signed to Silver Age Records in time for their 2016 effort, A Fistful of Peril and dropped First Weapon Drawn the very next year. Over these four records, the trio had crafted an entire mythology for the Czarface character who is heavily inspired by the lore of 1990’s comic books. In 2018, they paired with legendary MC, MF Doom. The match seemed to be maid in heaven as much of Doom’s discography is similarly comic book inspired. The album, Czarface Meets Metal Face was one of the best rap albums of last year. Now they’re back with another genre legend.
Wu-Tang alum, Ghostface Killah needs very little introduction to any fan of hip-hop. He debuted in with 1993’s triple platinum Enter the Wu-Tang which was followed in ’97 with the quadruple platinum, Wu-Tang Forever. Both of these are virtually scripture for fans of East Coast hip-hop, but Ghostface also has 13 solo LP’s to his name, including his platinum debut, Ironman. Few MC’s in rap history can rival the man’s pedigree, though two who can find themselves on this album with him.
This comes as no surprise, but each artist more than pulls their weight on this project. Ghostface Killah strikes first with an incredible verse on “Face Off,” where he is certainly the best part of the track. He also goes out with a bang on his last cut, “Mongolian Beef.” His flow is, of course, similar to his fellow MC’s, but he differentiates himself with complex, multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and an aggressive delivery.
Inspectah Deck, on the other hand, has a more braggadocios style that really shines threw in the latter half of the record. On tracks like “Listen to the Color,” or the hilariously titled closer, “(Post Credit Scene),” Deck’s performances are dripping in attitude and make a nice counterpart to Ghostface’s more aggressive vocals. His flow is simpler but his lyricism is often the most impressive on a given track.
Surprisingly, however, it’s neither of the Wu-Tang alums who come off looking the best on Czarface Meets Ghostface. That title goes to Esoteric. Across the record, he more than holds his own among fellow legends and on tracks like “Iron Claw,” or “Powers and Stuff,” he outshines them quite a bit. His flow is complex, his delivery is excellent, and lyrically, he lives a ton of unique references as bread crumbs for repeated listeners.
When it comes to instrumentals, unfortunately, we have a somewhat mixed bag. There are moments of brilliance from 7L without a doubt. The “Macho Man” Randy Savage soundbite in the opener, “Back at Ringside,” is excellent and using what sounds like Donkey Kong 64 theme as the driving melody on “Morning Ritual,” may be one of my favorite details ever in a track. In fact, on a cut like “The King Heard Voices,” the beat as a whole is one of the best in recent memory.
However, most of the record is a bit lacking in interesting ideas. Songs like “Czarrcade ’87,” and “Masked Superstars,” are noticeably repetitive, but there’s a bad tendency on the whole album to gather just a few interesting samples that sound good on first listen but very poorly cover for the lack of depth or layers on these instrumentals. Most of the tracks come off as just similar drum beats on loop.
On the whole, this album is a treat. Three all time great MC’s find themselves working together and, somehow, none of them have lost their edge. While many of the instrumentals find themselves lacking, they’re good enough and certainly aren’t the focus. Instead, the lyricism and mythology is on full display and we’re left with an enjoyable collection of hip-hop tracks.
While Czarface Meets Ghostface may not be hold the attention of a casual listener, it’s an absolute can’t miss for fans of classic, East Coast hip-hop.
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