When you have a core member of the Wu Tang Clan, Inspectah Deck joining forces with underground Hip-Hop stars 7L & Esoteric you know that you will be left with an album that will appeal to true underground heads. But does Czarface live up to the expectations of the underground fan-base ? For those that are unaware Czarface is the collaborative studio album from Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric which features many serious Hip-Hop generals; Ghostface Killah, Oh No, Roc Marciano, Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire, Action Bronson, Cappadonna and Vinnie Paz. The album is released on indie label Brick Records and is produced by 7L, Spada4 and DJ Premier. It comes in at just over 46 minutes, is 14 tracks long and is available on vinyl (for true heads), CD and Download.
The album starts off with a sinister sounding intro featuring interesting vocal samples and Deck telling us what plan is for this album. This slips straight into the heavy “Air ‘em out”. An upbeat track with a heavy electric bass line and nice crisp drum and cymbals. Deck drops the first verse inline with expectations before Esoteric brings in his distinct vocals. The beat is by 7L and Spada4, it works well as an intro to the style of this project. Track three features Roc Marciano and is called “Cement 3′s”. Again 7L and Spada4 provide the beat which would not sound out of place on a Gza album. It features a great ODB sample for the chorus with some nice but simple scratches. All three emcees represent nicely over this overtly 90s East Coast inspired beat.
Oh No joins the group for the fourth track, “Czar Refaeli”. 7L and Spada4 provide the beat and its another banga’ with a heavy electric beta and snappy snares. Oh No works well with Deck and Esoteric providing more unapologetic rhymes offering no morals or positivity which is nice for a change. The track ends with a strange vocal sample over a deep double bass loop. “Rock Beast” Is a more upbeat joint with a nice organ lopp and some dope strings. This time Esoteric goes first and manages to fit Batman, Ras A’ Ghul and Wu Tang into one rhyme before handing the mic over to Deck who shows that he still has those skills that made that first verse on the classic Wu joint “Triumphant” so memorable.
“Savagely Attack” starts off with a Super Friends sample and a heavy guitar loop. Deck drops the first verse over an upbeat track before handing the mic to Esoteric who is soon joined by our good friend Ghostface Killah. Any track that features Ghostface automatically appeals to me but if its a faster track then I know I’m in for a treat and 7L drops a nice fast beat. This does not disappoint, from the lyrics dropped by all three to the super hero samples its works well all round. The seventh track on the album is “Marvel Team Up” with a deep bass line and what sounds like an organ loop. The emcees represent nicely on this joint with decent lyrics and a nice to and fro chorus over the 7L produced beat.
Spada4 joins 7L again for the eighth track “It’s Raw” which features popular newcomer Action Bronson. Bronson provides a nice verse showing off his word play before handing the mic to Esoteric and Deck who provide two dope verses. The beat is features what sounds like a paper and comb sample over somewhat subdued drums. Track nine is “Let it off” and the beat is produced by DJ Premier. It is a trademark Premier beat and although some people complain that Premier does not vary his style enough its still incredibly dope. Yes it does have that same tempo he tends to use but it has its own unique traits; the deep piano stabs, the strings building to a crescendo and the killer scratches help to make it another Premier banga’. Both Deck and Esoteric bring their A game to this joint matching their lyrics perfectly to the beat. One of the best tracks on a strong album.
Track ten is “World War 4″ and I love this joint; its fast, has a nice flute sample, both emcees represent with upbeat verse and 7L brings some funny vocal samples along too. This one is produced by 7L alone and he flips piano loops alongside the flute samples perfectly. Another strong joint. Track eleven is another 7L only produced joint called “The Dead Zone”. A slower beat than the last joint but it features an unusual vocal sample and heavy drums with a lot of cymbals. Scratching for the chorus is always nice especially when it mixes samples from a such diverse sources.
Track twelve, “Poisonous Thoughts” is another 7L joint with crisps drums, cymbals, Hi-Hats and a sick electric guitar samples nicely chopped upo by 7L as well as some nice scratches for the chorus. Deck and Esoteric are joined by popular up and coming emcee Mr. Muthafuckin’ Exquire who rips up the track as you would expect. But thats just the start of the track about halfway through the beat changes up bringing in some more samples and a different loop although its just as good as the first part. This joint really shows off 7L’s skills behind the boards. The penultimate track on the album is “Shoguns” and features another Wu Tang member, Cappadonna as well Jedi Mind Tricks member Vinnie Paz. The beat features a long electric guitar sample alongside some strange percussion and flutes at times. ‘Donna shows us he still has the style that made him popular in the late nineties and Vinnie shows us he is still angry, which is good. However Deck and Esoteric do not take this track lightly and both come heavy on this joint, especially Deck who kicks the track off.
The album ends with another 7L & Spada4 produced joint, “Hazmat Rap”. This track features a nice blues guitar sample over what sounds like it could be the Skull Snaps drum break, which is a good thing. Its also has some dark sounding synths that sound like they could come from a Georgio Moroder soundtrack released in the mid 80s. Both emcees finsih off the album nicely with respects being paid to ODB by Deck and Esoteric mentiuons a few 90s legends too. Nice scratches from 7L make up the chorus and the fade out. To summarise this is a strong album that fans of East Coast 90s Hip-Hop will love. Some may say that releasing an album now that sounds like the 90s is a bad thing however they would be sorely mistaken as although its does have a distinctly 90s sound this album features emcees and beats that are comfortable being released today. The guests on the album do not detract from the group but compliment them. 7L shows that he has grown as a producer since those early releases in the late 90s. Deck proves he still has the skills to make him a formidable emcee and Esoteric shows that he can hold his own alongside Deck. You will not find positivity here nor moralistic preachy rhymes but just straight up battle lyrics alongside braggadocio rhymes, something that a lot of hip-hop artists have forgotten of late or replaced with false tales of drug dealing and listing one’s monetary status. This album is a treat for real hip-hop heads and deserves to be bought (preferably on vinyl) and played over and over again. Highlights; “Let it off”, “World War 4″, “Poisonous Thoughts” and “Savagely Attack “.
This article was first posted on March 4, 2013