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CZARFACE & MF DOOM Czarface Meets Metal Face gets 8/10

Czarface & MF Doom
Czarface Meets Metal Face
Get On Down

8/10

Czarface is the moniker for a hip hop supergroup bringing together the talents of Wu-Tang clansman Inspectah Deck and the hip-hop due 7L & Esoteric. Early Wu heads and fans of alternative hip hop (Dr Octagon, Def Jux recordings, etc) take note – this is hip hop for hip hop’s sake. No trap, manufactured drama, beefs, overwrought auto-tune ballads, or pop-disguised-as-rap to be found here. Instead we just have crushing-hard soul and jazz-inflected beats and virtuoso lines that teeter between the sublime and the absurd, chock full of the sort of garishly cartoonish imagery hinted at by the cover art. To lend further fire to proceedings,  Czarface are joined by the ever-mysterious living legend MF Doom. With a pedigree this strong, it seems impossible for this project to fall flat. Indeed, together they produce just shy of a hip hop classic.

The three aforementioned MCs (7L is on production duty) trade verses with reckless abandon. Inspectah Deck plays the role of elder statesman, aggressive and commanding. MF Doom is an enigma – his mush-mouthed delivery, odd rhyme schemes and tangential lyrics are beguiling as always. Coming out strongest here is Esoteric. His flow cuts the hardest and his wit is sharper than a samurai blade, as he slings out pop culture references ranging from Conor McGregor and suplexes to the menacingness of Ben Mendelson. Overall highlights are numerous – some choice cuts and their lyrics follow.

Bomb Thrown, a jubilant old-school single that revels in its clattering keys and soul sample, is pure fun (Inspectah Deck: “Money, power, respect, we all want some/ I ain’t waitin’, I needed it, one lump su / Made men trade hands with young guns/ They stopped manufacturin’ the cloth that I’m cut from”). Meddle With Metal is heavy as hell, its chorus sample sounding ripped from a 70s zombie flick (Doom: “New York, this ain’t no new talk, true talk/ TMZ and fake beef is the new pork/ Filthy, regurgitate”). Stun Gun is calm and collected, Aesop Rock by way of effortless cool (Esoteric: “Deadly with the pen I bring, the chemistry is menacing/ Like what? Ben Mendelson in anything/ Let me be Frank like Bernthal at a casting call/ Punish cats like Kyrie, mask and all/ I’m like a 2017 Gordon Hayward ’cause I don’t play/ But I’m okay, I run through rappers like Chipotle”).
The album drops just short due to its production. The backing tracks are not bad per se, but too few truly rise to the occasion. It’s also mixed too loud against the vocals – Esoteric’s sharp delivery has no issue tearing through the mix but a more laidback Doom often gets buried under overly trebly and busy percussion on cuts like Captain Crunch and Phantoms. The former track is repeated with different production as Captain Brunch, a move that needlessly pads the album and perhaps acknowledges that the original needed a different mix.

Despite production niggles this is a showcase of three MCs still at the height of their powers. A must-have for any fans of Wu Tang, Doom, and alternative hip hop. Get on it.

MATIJA ZIVKOVIC

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