Props to Dave Tarantino for the heads up on this. This will be a real shot this time, as opposed to the 800 word essays I call “shots” just to ease away from my self-imposed requirements on how thorough a “review” should be. Also, I started this piece days ago but couldn’t finish before moving over the weekend and I’m just now settled enough to finish this. Another review should be coming in a day or two. Sorry for the content gap.
Czarface is one of those mash-ups that’s a backpack hip-hop head’s wet dream. One of the sharpest Wu-Tang spitters connected with the unfailing underground creators 7L and Esoteric, for an album consumed by East Coast sounds and complex lyricism. Totally consumed. TOTALLY! There’s nothing else here!
That laser-guided focus will appeal to some and turn off others. I, being an East Coast-biased lyrics-snob, am definitely in the first group. Everyone involved clearly put a lot of effort into the music and it shows: Inspectah Deck and Esoteric rarely failed to impress with their rhymes, and the beats, mostly provided by 7L, pretty much all bang.
I should probably describe the sound a bit more. The drums always knock and the bass is strong but don’t expect the South’s sustained boom or many funky basslines. A lot of samples come from or are reminiscent of 80s/90s comic book-based cartoons, and most of the hooks are scratched samples of other raps, or simply nonexistent. The comic book/cartoon theme gives the album cohesion and some much needed extra interest.
That theme is necessary because…Deck and Eso pretty much only rap about…how good they are at rapping. (Sidenote: that topic looks really stupid written down. Honestly, who
throws a shoe? sings about how good they are at singing?! I’d bet only new singers inspired by rappers!) Anyway, rapping about your own skills is a hip-hop staple and I’m not at all mad at them for sticking with a topic that they’re good at. The wordplay from both is great and Deck’s flow is especially good.
Verdict: So that’s it, dope beats and dope rhymes. 5/5, right? Well…nah. The potential issue that I’ve been alluding to, the unchanging focus, indeed becomes a problem. Some tracks are just bound to be weaker when a full-length album is about one and only one thing. So Czarface gets monotonous over its 13 songs and one intro. I just don’t need this much of any one type of song. Even 10 tracks would probably have been too much. To be fair, few people, probably no one, can keep up a good energy and quality level over the course of this many versions of the same song. But to be more fair, Czarface could and should have done more than stick to this one-line script. Not that Czarface is a bad product, I’ll gladly take (ie skip) some boredom in exchange for the good here, but it’s an example of how focus can be a double-edged sword.
- Cement 3’s (minus the terrible-as-usual Roc Marciano verse)
- Czar Refaeli ft Oh No
- Poisonous Thoughts ft Mr. MFN Exquire (no idea why they gave only him a better version of the main beat but he kills it!)