CZARFACE – “Czarmageddon!” review

This is the 5th full-length album from East Coast supergroup CZARFACE. Consisting of Inspectah Deck of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan as well as 7L & Esoteric of the Army of the Pharaohs, first formed like Voltron in 1999 with Speaking Real Words” but decided to form the supergroup after making “12th Chamber” off the final 7L & Eso album to date 1212 in 2010. Their 2013 self-titled debut along with their 2015 sophomore effort Every Hero Needs a Villain would both become modern underground classics in my opinion. A Fistful of Peril the following year was originally supposed to be the quartet’s final album & I thought that was a great way for them to go out, but they did pleasantly surprise me when they dropped their collab albums CZARFACE Meets Metal Face with the late MF DOOM in 2018 & then CZARFACE Meets Ghostface Killah with his DOOMSTARKS partner in rhyme Ghostface Killah the year after that. The Odd Czar Against Us would come out 9 months later & that felt more like a split EP between CZARFACE and 7L & Eso given that both have 6 songs each. Last we heard from them was last spring when they dropped their 2nd collab album with DOOM called Super What? & now given that Record Store Day was last weekend, the supergroup’s getting back together for Czarmageddon!.

“Damien Dinner Time” is a boom bap opener produced by none other than The Czar-Keys finding Esoteric & Inspectah Deck spitting lethal battle raps like “You ain’t a Coachella, you flying coach with Ella & that local dope seller” and “I hit ‘em like lead to the chest, I wanna see hands to the forehead when my presence is blessed” whereas “The Czarlaac Pit” has a more Middle Eastern influence to the production talking about how you can’t stop their shine. “Can It Be?” works in some uplifting synthesizers coming through with some passionate verses, but then the synths that “Walk Thru Walls” bring to the table are more sinister accompanied by some dusty drums raising glasses to .

Meanwhile on “Splash Page”, we have CZARFACE over some heavy drums talking about being focused on the green leading into “Bob LaCzar” takes a more lo-fi route in terms of sound flexing their skills. Lion Eye tags along for the rap rock-tinged “Big ‘Em Up” challenging anyone to step up to them just before “Nu Muntantes” has a more cavernous tone to it comparing themselves to that of mutants & the hook is super awkward.

The song “Fearless & Inventive” by 7L & Esoteric and Kool Keith finds the trio over some more rock production talking about being bounty hunters & after the “Boogie DefMix” interlude, the penultimate track “Czarv Wolfman” is a fresh 2-parter in the vein of “I’m the Man” by Gang Starr as well as Jeru the Damaja & Lil Dap. “Logan-5” ends the album with an emotional note paying tribute to Esoteric’s dog Logan, who passed away a little over 2 years ago at this point.

I’ve been a fan of CZARFACE since the first album came out during my sophomore year of high school & I have to admit that this is the Fistful of Peril follow-up that I wanted The Odd Czar Against Us. The production from The Czar-Keys is pretty much a melting pot of all the sounds they’ve experimented with in the past & I’m happy to hear Deck on more than half of it destroying mics with Eso like they do best.

Score: 4.5/5

CZARFACE & MF DOOM – “Super What?” review

This is the surprise 2nd collaborative album between East Coast supergroup CZARFACE & one of the most beloved MCs/producers in all of hip hop: MF DOOM. The first time we heard Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric team up with Viktor was on “Ka-Bang!” off the trio’s classic 2015 sophomore album Every Hero Needs a Villain, which was followed up in 2018 with the appropriately titled CZARFACE Meets Metal Face. But after being delayed for the past year due to COVID-19 as well as DOOM’s unfortunate passing, Super What? is finally seeing the light of day.

“The King & Eye” is a solid way to kick the album off as the quartet team up with D.M.C. to declare themselves as royalty on top of a boom bap beat from none other than The Czar-Keys with some chimes being incorporated. The next song “Czarwyn’s Theory of People Getting Loose” goes on about how “there’s no dope in the industry” & even though I personally believe is far from true, all 3 of the verses on here are cutthroat as Hell. As for the production end of it: I like how it starts off grimy, but the switch-up midway through Esoteric’s verse was a bit unnecessary.

“Mando Calrissian” has a Special Herbs feel to it instrumentally as the trio talk about going commando, but then the track “DOOM Unto Others” is an decimating battle rap cut. Del the Funky Homosapien provides the best feature at the end of the threatening “Jason & the Czargonauts” before talking about “continuing where they left off” on the jazzy “Break in the Action”.

After the “A Name to the Face” skit, the song “This is Canon Now” is a 7L & Eso solo cut taking it back to the days of A New Dope instrumentally & dropping numerous comic references. The penultimate track “So Strange” incorporates an organ as well as some dusty drums as they pop off about the thoughts in their mind & even though I like the storytelling on “Young World” a lot, it’s a weird way to end the album.

Even though Super What? is more of an EP to me than a full-length, I still enjoyed it as much as CZARFACE Meets Metal Face. The chemistry between the 3 emcees never fails to amuse me & The Czar-Keys stick to their guns in terms of the project’s overall sound.

Score: 4.5/5

CZARFACE – “The Odd Czar Against Us” review

CZARFACE is an East Coast supergroup consisting of Inspectah Deck of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan as well as 7L & Esoteric of the Army of the Pharaohs. They first formed like Voltron in 1999 with “Speaking Real Words” but after getting together again on “12th Chamber off the final 7L & Eso album to date 1212 in 2010, that’s when the trio decided to form a trio together. Their 2013 self-titled debut along with their 2015 sophomore album Every Hero Needs a Villain would both become modern underground classics in my opinion. Last time we heard the supergroup on their own was in 2016 with A Fistful of Peril, as they’ve been putting out collab albums with both MF DOOM & Ghostface Killah throughout the last couple years. However, they’re ending off the 2010s with their 4th full-length album.

The opener “Bizarro” finds Deck & Esoteric challenging their opponents over a druggy instrumental whereas the next song “Call Me” is a 7L & Esoteric cut about people trying to hit em up over an instrumental kin to A New Dope. “The Gift That Keeps On…” sees the trio reforming to use the title as a beautiful metaphor for the trio’s music over a meditative instrumental while the song “Me’s Company” is Esoteric talking about keeping his circle small over a funky beat.

The track “Dear Computer” is Deck & Esoteric talking about going viral over an electro-boom bap beat while the song “Burrito” sees Eso telling the story of being at a Mexican place over a beat with some dope bass-playing throughout. The track “Brother Marquis” then finds CZAR trading bars with each other over a warping beat.

The track “Couch” is Esoteric about being lazy over a suiting instrumental while the song “Double Dragon” finds Deck getting back with the Boston duo to go at their competition over a tense instrumental. “The Problem with Frank” sees Eso comparing himself to the Punisher over an eerie beat while the penultimate track “Dog” finds him paying tribute to his Lab over an atmospheric beat. The album then finishes with “Czartis Gilmore (The Cool Down)”, where Esoteric gets back with Inspectah Deck to talk about wack rappers over an alluring beat.

As a huge fan of CZARFACE, this was ok. The pen game is undeniably killer but it seems like there’s a lack of focus as the album seems half CZARFACE, half 7L & Esoteric. Nonetheless, I’m excited to see what they’re gonna do going into the 2020s.

Score: 3/5

Inspectah Deck – “Chamber #9” review

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Inspectah Deck is a renown MC & producer from Staten Island, New York that came up as a member of the almighty Wu-Tang Clan. He’s delivered some of the group’s best verses ever from “Cold World” to “Triumph”, but it wasn’t until 1999 that he would make his solo debut with the underrated Uncontrolled Substance. His 2003 sophomore effort The Movement as well as his 2006 debut mixtape The Resident Patient were both solid in their own rights also but I can’t say the same for Manifesto back on 2010, Deck’s last full-length solo outing. The Rebel has since been focusing on CZARFACE with 7L & Esoteric throughout this decade but almost 5 months after the release of the CZAR’s collab album with Ghostface Killah entitled CZARFACE vs. Ghostface, we’re finally getting Rollie’s 4th full-length solo album.

It all kicks off with “Shaolin Rebel”, where Deck brags over an alluring beat. The next song “No Good” reflects on his criminal past over a luxurious beat while the track “Russell Jones” gets gutter over a perfectly grimy beat. The track “Can’t Stay Away” talks about his love for the culture over a soulful beat while the song “Na Na Na” is a mesmerizing party anthem with a hypnotic beat.

The title track boasts about his prowess with an epic beat while the song “Certified” is of course about his legacy over some strings & saxophones. The track “24K” with Cappadonna & Hellfire is filled with battle bars over a sinister beat while the song “What It Be Like” talks about the rough life in the streets over a somber beat.

The track “Game Don’t Change” is of course about drug dealing over a boom bap beat akin to the Wu’s signature sound & while I can appreciate the grinding dedication with the song “Dollar Signs”, the female vocals do get annoying after a while. The penultimate track “Who Run It?” with Hellfire & Streetlife see the 3 talking about their skills over a jazzy beat & then the album ends with “Fire”, where Deck & Trife Diesel spit just that over a boom bap beat with some plinky keys.

For a 9 year wait, it’s a pretty passable comeback. Inspectah Deck definitely proves that he’s still the best Clansmen in terms of lyricism & I can appreciate that he kept it at a respectable length in comparison to Manifesto, but the production (mostly handled by Danny Caiazzo) is just decent as is the feature choices.

Score: 3/5

CZARFACE & Ghostface Killah – “CZARFACE Meets Ghostface” review

This is the highly anticipated collab album between East Coast supergroup CZARFACE & the legendary Ghostface Killah. They first teamed up on the banger “Savagely Attack” off of CZARFACE’s self-titled debut back in 2013 but now almost a year after the trio’s collab album with MF DOOM titled CZARFACE Meets Metal Face, they’re following it up by doing a collab album with Tony Starks himself.

After the “Back at the Ringside” intro, the first song “Face Off” sees CZAR & Ghost really suiting the title over an eerie beat. The track “Iron Claw” tells their competition not to push them over an El-P inspired instrumental while the song “Czarrcade ‘87” is a CZAR solo cut where Esoteric & Inspectah Deck get confrontational over an ominous beat. The track “Powers & Stuff” reunite with Ghost to brag about their skills over an apocalyptic beat while the song “Masked Superstars” continues the lyrical themes of the previous joint over a more boom bap beat.

The track “Morning Ritual” has a somber beat & the storytelling is vivid, but I’m confused as to way Inspectah Deck doesn’t appear on it at all. The song “Super Soldier Serum” gets boastful over an electro-tinged beat while “The King Heard Voices” gets murderous over a perfectly fitting instrumental. The track “Listen to the Color” is another CZAR cut that could’ve been on any of their first 3 albums & before things close out with the “(Post Credits Scene)” outro, the final song “Mongolian Beef” is a lyrical onslaught with a doomsday-sounding beat.

From front to back, it definitely lives up to the hype. It could’ve been a little longer & used a couple features, but the production & chemistry between CZAR & Ghost is almost on par with DOOM’s.

Score: 4/5

CZARFACE & MF DOOM – “CZARFACE Meets Metal Face” review

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This is the highly anticipated & unexpected collab album between East Coast supergroup CZARFACE & the renown MF DOOM. They originally collaborated on the hard hitting “Ka-Bang!” off of CZARFACE’s classic 2015 sophomore album Every Hero Needs a Villain, but now they are reuniting for a full-length project together. After the “Take Your Medicine” intro, we then get into the first song “Meddle with Metal”. Here, the Metal Face Villain alongside Inspectah Deck & Esoteric tell all the wack MCs that armageddon is here over an ominous beat from The Czar-Keys (7L & Spada4). The track “Badness of Madness” sees the 3 MCs bragging about their rapping prowess over some creepy keys & then after the “Closer Talker” skit, we then get into the next song “Forever People”. Here, the 3 charismatically y’all about how dope they are over some settle bass.

The track “Captain Crunch” is basically shit-talking the wack & to be honest, I think Deck has the best verse on here. Especially with how he started it. The 1 & a half minute “Don’t Spoil It” is a short yet head-bobbing Inspectah Deck solo cut that talks about the era he came from & being hip hop’s most wanted over some live drumming & a guitar in the background. The song “Phantoms” with Open Mike Eagle sees the 4 making a fancy anthem over a futuristic beat while & I love how the beat changes to something grimier during the 2nd half. The track “Bomb Thrown” is filled with creative battle bars with an eerie soul sample in the background.

After the “You Masked For It” skit, we then go into the song “Astral Traveling”. While DOOM doesn’t have a verse on this joint at all, CZARFACE & Vinnie Paz do manage to spit violent bars throughout & the way the beat changes after each verse is a nice homage to “I’m the Man” by Gang Starr. The song “Nautical Depth” takes a jab at the current state of hip hop over an eerie beat while the track “Stun Gun” is a 7L & Esoteric cut with battle bars over some bass & an organ. The song “MF Czar” talks about how the trio & the Villain are hip hop’s antidote over some grim electronic keyboards while “Captain Brunch” is a decent remix to “Captain Crunch”. The album then finishes off with “Sleeping Dogs”, which is just a 50 second instrumental.

From the second this was announced, I knew this was gonna be great. CZARFACE’s chemistry has been proven over the past 5 years, but their chemistry with MF DOOM is stronger than it was on “Ka-Bang!”.

Score: 4.5/5