The underground supergroup consisting of Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck and Boston rapper-producer duo Esoteric and 7L is back together as CZARFACE for the first time in two years. The trio just released a new album titled Super What?, and it is a collaboration with the late great MF DOOM. With this being the supervillain’s second collaboration with the group and the first time we’re hearing him since the news of his passing, can CZARFACE properly kick off DOOM’s posthumous career?
“The King and Eye” kicks things off with legendary Run DMC member DMC joining Esoteric for a sonically polished but lyrically ferocious opener. This track is not bad by any means but it’s a weak tone-setter considering that the LPs best MCs are entirely absent, outside of some faint laughing from DOOM at the tail end of the cut. Fortunately, “Czarwyn’s Theory of People Getting Loose” immediately picks things up with its chilling instrumental and vocal pandemonium. Here, Inspectah Deck proves once again why he’s one of the best lyricists of all time, and in only eight bars, DOOM absolutely steals the show with his intricate rhyme scheme and otherworldly presence.
While even in this super small sample size, DOOM is unbeatable, it’s slightly disappointing to see how little his role is here and through the rest of the first half. Tracks like “Mando Calrissian” and “Doom Unto Others” are adventurous, but the minimal presence of the masked legend can feel a little frustrating considering the project is marketed as a full-length collaboration album between the two entities. Fortunately, this issue only plagues this small section and becomes nearly nonexistent towards the middle as the seamless chemistry, and hard-hitting lyricism between all artists make for an unbeatable combination.
Joined by another all-time great in Del The Funky Homosapien, “Jason & Czargonuats” makes for a posse cut of the ages as Del, Ins, Eso, and DOOM destroy 7L’s distorted congo infused drum pattern. Riding off this momentum, “Break in the Action” only makes things better as we see what sounds like vintage MF DOOM rap over a jazzy instrumental that he demolishes with his super complex bars and clever one-liners. Balancing this track out, Esoteric challenges DOOM and raises the heat with his well-crafted, highly thought-provoking lyricism. Through this entire second leg, it seems that Esoteric challenges DOOM for his lyrical throne even more than Deck did on their past collaboration, as the two have some pretty impressive showdowns. We even see Eso gear up for one more battle with his own track titled “This is Canon Now,” which could frustrate some due to its lack of DOOM, but its technical proficiency should drown out any complaints.
Gearing up for an epic finale, “So Strange” chops up a church organ over what’s become a somewhat redundant boom-bap drum pattern as Esoteric and DOOM have one of their greatest duels yet, all while singer Godforbid delivers a spine chilling hook. Through all his appearances, it’s been shocking to hear how well Esoteric can keep up with the masked legend but here, we see him lyrically peak and nearly outperform Viktor Vaughn, which speaks miles to the Boston titans abilities. With an angelic pallet, “Young World” is solid in its craft, and while Inspectah Deck and Esoteric hold their own, this outro feels lackluster with DOOM being absent. It’s confusing because, throughout the record, tensions were rising up between the heroic persona of CZARFACE and the evil facade of DOOM but ending this battle prematurely and never giving DOOM or the narrative a proper send-off leaves a massive stain all over this LP.
While Super What? is a solid piece of music on the surface, its confusing handling of MF DOOM verses and misleading direction make this one of CZARFACE’s weaker outings to date. Aside from the clear issues I’ve kept bashing on through the rest of this review, the soundscape offers little to nothing when it comes to shock factor, and the most detrimental quality comes from the nearly nonexistent presence of Inspectah Deck. His showings were very minimal in length and adding insult to injury, his verses were very forgettable and could hardly hold a torch to what DOOM and Esoteric were doing. If you love top-tier lyricism, you won’t find a better record than this, but for those who look for a complete hip hop experience, this album will leave you confused and disappointed.
- Esoteric delivers one of the best performances of his career
- When MF DOOM is present, he’s great and the star of the record
- Chemistry between Czarface and DOOM is great
- DOOM’s role becomes so minimal at times, it’s very frustrating
- Inspectah Deck feels so unimportant
- Soundscape is very plain despite being well put together
Written By: Mr. Fantastic