Following on from his collaborative effort with MF DOOM last year, CZARFACE is back with some more tongue-twisting mic bombs; this time alongside legendary Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah. The result is an enthralling but gritty bar zone, with two of the game’s most prominent microphone assassins going back and forth on an almost comic-book styled album.
The project run that hip-hop supergroup CZARFACE have been on is absolutely stellar these past few years. Consisting of underground hip-hop duo 7L & Estoric and Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck, they released four albums in five years to strong acclaim before plunging into the most exciting work of their career. Last year, for their fifth album as CZARFACE, the group called upon MF DOOM for a collaborative project that was titled Czarface Meets Metal Face; and it was a project that featured in our 2018 Albums of the Year list thanks to the seamless chemistry the rappers had over some truly killer beats. Now comes a whole new beast, a collaboration with the Wu-Tang Clan’s very own Ghostface Killah. Anticipation has been high, but does it live up to the understandably high standards?
Well, yes and no. Ghost is a bonafide legend of the industry, his wordplay and flows are just about as stellar as it gets; so twinning that with the styles of Czarface was always going to be a recipe for success. I love the braggadocio of this album, the sheer audacity of starting the album with an imitation of legendary wrestler Randy Savage cutting a promo shows just how cool and inventive these guys are. It sets the tone for the whole album in more ways than one; the sinister beats, the hilarious witticisms in the lyrics and the truly outlandish samples are a staple of this project as an entire entity.
The beat selections on this thing are absolutely absurd, in a good way. Just listening to those horror film styled synth lines on Face Off is enough to grab your attention, let alone the way it moves into the dirty distortion on the very next track Iron Claw. As was the case on previous Czarface projects, the production doesn’t falter and maintains a level of consistency throughout that is necessary for these microphone demons to dominate. The best beat on this HAS to be The King Heard Voices, the sampling is very much reminiscent of Strange Ways from Madvillainy and it is perhaps the finest example of the album’s evil cartoon strip concept.
As for the actual collaboration, Ghostface Killah came with absolutely no apologies on this album. He offers some of his best bars this decade and gives you a sense of necessary nostalgia that this type of album desires. His flows are poignant, punchy and powerful while his voice sounds just as cold as ever. Czarface also serve up some lethal vocal blows as they bounce on the beat with such fluidity it sounds almost impossible at times. The cadences on Masked Superstars and Super Soldier Serum prove that the song titles aren’t far from the truth, it borders on superhuman.
Here are some of my favourite bars from the album:
- “I’m lowkey like a government official, deep under the surface like some bone gristle” – Super Soldier Serum
- “got the scoop on the game like a bowl of cereal” – Face Off
- “I’m wig splitting, and still chopping heads than true thugs” – Powers and Stuff
- “(You acting all BIG now) but you ain’t Christopher Wallace” – Iron Claw
Overall I feel like this album is a welcome addition to the Czarface catalogue. Inspectah Deck is as icy cold as ever in his deliveries and while he may not have the back-and-forth bar-for-bar chemistry with Ghost that he appeared to show with DOOM last year; this thing works and it works very well. As far as underground rap acts go I can’t think of many better right now than Czarface, as they show absolutely no signs of stopping this huge run of boom-blast, gun-and-run rap records. Ghostface Killah serves up some of his finest performances in a very long time and the result is more than enough to weigh up alongside Czarface Meets Metal Face.