- Released: 15th February 2019
- Length: 39:39
- Label: Silver Age
- Metacritic Score: 71/100
- Peak UK Chart Position: Did Not Chart // #34 on Billboard Top Album Sales Chart (Physical Sales Only)
- For Fans Of: MF Doom, Danny Brown, Gorillaz
What The Critics Said:
On the vocal side of things, the rappers work on a tag team – rather than triple-threat – basis. On many tracks, Czarface’s MC Esoteric and Inspectah Deck keep your head on a swivel, flitting in and around each other, posting up quick wordplay combos before Ghostface comes in to land the killer blows while you’re distracted.NME
What the Artist Said:
I don’t think we changed anything as far as our recording process. I remember Deck saying early on around that no matter who we are working with “they are in our dojo” so to speak. We just keep things as loose as we can and just record records and see how they happen organically.DJ 7L of Czarface
Czarface are an American supergroup consisting of former Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck and underground duo DJ 7L (MC) and Esoteric (DJ), more commonly known as 7LES. Since 2011 they have released eight albums to widespread critical acclaim, their most commercially successful release coming in 2018 with Czarface Meets Metal Face, a collaboration with legendary rapper MF Doom which reached #134 on the Billboard Album Charts.
Ghostface Killah is (also) a former member of Wu-Tang Clan who has released 13 solo albums since 1996. His debut album Ironman reached #2 on the Billboard Album Charts, selling over a million copies in the US, and he has achieved continuous critical praise for his rapping style and subsequent releases.
I’ll confess now that I listen to very little Wu-Tang Clan and had no idea who Czarface were before I was recommended this album for the blog. To be honest, that whole introduction is a big fly-tipping of low level Wikipedia information, and I apologise unreservedly for the criminally minor attention I’ve given to Ghostface Killah’s career (which I’m sure is great, I promise).
Sins repented, let’s talk about the album. Considering the prolificacy of Czarface’s output across the last decade, this album is an extremely strong effort. It holds a dark undertone that courses through each track, complimented exceptionally by the intense verses of Ghostface, Esoteric and Inspectah Deck.
An example of the lyrical and productive flair of the collaboration comes from the second track ‘Face Off’. Led by a two-note riff and backed up by an irresistible beat, the song exhibits a simple yet undeniably effective recipe which will, by default, have you hooked. Esoteric stands out in the final forty seconds of the track, maintaining an awe-inspiring pace and balance to his words before powerfully announcing the ‘Flow’s so worthy it could hold Thor’s hammer like’.
The essence of this album can be found in the subtle aggression the vocalists share in their tone and in the sparsity of the instrumental layering. The grooves are understated and boldly unadventurous, mainly relying only on the bass and snare drums, while the remaining accompaniment is typically anchored by brooding hooks and the poetics of the collaborators.
However, it might be fair to observe that the album becomes a little too reliant on this formula. There’s certainly no particular or obvious dip in the generally high quality of the album, but there are moments where the tracks seem a little too familiar in texture and form to sustain a heavily devoted commitment to the listening of each song’s intricacies.
Still, there are moments of class generously distributed across the album. ‘Iron Claw’ offers a punching groove with a chilling riff that snakes in eerie brilliance behind the tough vocals, while ‘Mongolian Beef’ leads you down a path of unsettling dreaminess before Ghostface pulls you back into a gloomy reality with brute force. The album’s strongest moment comes in ‘Listen to The Color’, a six minute odyssey which journeys through a sinister yet almost jazzy avenue, taking moments to breathe and coming back with unrelenting strength and vigour.
Czarface Meets Ghostface, while not holding the popularity or success of the previous MF Doom collaboration, is still a robust effort. What it loses in its structural repetition it makes up for in the skill and competency of the rappers, and is a reliable and accessible record for fans of invasive, powerful beats and erratic yet expressive lyricism.
- Back At Ringside (1:52)
- Face Off* (2:56)
- Iron Claw* (3:11)
- Czarrcade ’87 (2:09)
- Powers and Stuff (3:27)
- Masked Superstars (3:17)
- Morning Ritual* (2:40)
- Super Soldier Serum (3:27)
- The King Heard Voices (4:30)
- Listen To The Colour** (5:50)
- Mongolian Beef (3:18)
- (Post Credits Scene) (1:56)
Thanks to Joe for the recommendation.