Czarface Meets Metal Face
36 Chambers, Tical, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Liquid Swords, if Metal Face can’t quite hold a candle to these seminal hip-hop releases the flame is, at least, still a-flicker. Czarface, the supergroup comprised of the Wu’s Inspectah Deck and duo 7L & Esoteric had worked with MF Doom on a previous single, making this album-length collaboration a natural next step.
It’s proof, immediately, that Doom works best in collaboration. If this doesn’t have the darker heart and deep soul of Madvillainy then it at least has the effortless flow and good-groove of The Mouse and The Mask, returning Doom to his peak-era sound after a past decade of personal and professional woes.
It’s by no means an instant classic – but there are a handful of stone classic cuts here: Forever People, Captain Crunch, Phantoms and Bomb Thrown are worth your time and make this album worth the while, even silly track-length throwaway skit, You Masked For It, is a throwback to when comic-obsessed hip-hop silly skits could be humourous and tonally on point.
Chuck in a few name-drops in the verses, lyrics that line up mentions of Steely Dan and old pro-wrestlers in almost the very same breath, a few dusty old soul samples, some lovely electric piano glide and the sonic intensity of Nautical Depth and you have one of the best hip-hop albums of recent times; a throwback that is still looking forward. It’s certainly worked for me, re-energised my interest in the wider genre, reconnected me with music that meant the world to me some 15 years ago or so.
I’m all in for this. Both a much-hyped project and a sort of sleeper-hit, in that it’ll be discovered throughout the years, a reminder of underground hip-hop’s past.
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