Review: Czarface & MF DOOM - Czarface Meets Metal Face

Release Date: March 30, 2018
Label: Get On Down
Spotify Link

   Czarface Meets Metal Face is the team-up album by hip hop's super individuals; Czarface, a group consisting of the underground duo 7L & Esoteric and east coast legend Inspectah Deck, and MF DOOM, the underground villain best known for his numerous rap personas (Metal Fingers, Viktor Vaughn, King Geedorah, and Doom to name a few). A true testament to Czarface & MF DOOM's superhuman rap vocabularyCzarface Meets Metal Face is a lyrical gun show through and through.

   I'm a huge MF DOOM fan, and every good MF DOOM fan knows that the metal faced villain never puts out new music anymore. Notably, the last full length album Doom appeared on was his collaboration with Bishop Nehru on 2014's NehruvianDoom. Even more disappointingly, back in August-September 2017, Doom had a partnership with Adult Swim to release new singles each week, free to stream under the name of The Missing Notebook Rhymes. Of the singles released, before the sudden cancellation by Adult Swim, many were previously released b-sides content, branded as "never before heard." While it's unfortunate that Doom no longer seems interested in creating new projects, it's unsurprising considering the recent passing of his only son, Malachi Ezekiel Dumile.

   Luckily, the villain has returned to us with undoubtedly the most logical collaboration in hip hop. Czarface and MF DOOM not only share their NY roots in common, but also a common superhero theme to their personas and music in general. Many of Czarface and Doom's solo projects have used beats that sample old 60's era superhero cartoons, or at least imitate the sounds of them. Czarface Meets Metal Face is no exception, with beats that maintain a sort of "supervillan's theme song" using very retro sounding instrumentation. Yet despite the instruments feeling retro in style, and voice filtering on intermissions like "Close Talker" that make Czarface sound like a character from a Duke Nukem video game, the production on the tracks are very clean and modern. A key highlight of this production style is on the track "Forever People", which sports very haunting organ keys, thumping bass and lead guitar rifts, and is textured with appropriately timed samples and superhero soundtrack tropes. (I especially love on Inspectah Deck's verse "Like I'm in the arcade with no change, I ain't playin' no games" where some 8-bit game over sound effects echo in the background).

   For the most part though, the production isn't all that impressive overall, and at times can be forgettable. "Captain Crunch" for example, boils down to a looping drum beat with a couple of bass slaps here and there. The album's production certainly isn't anything groundbreaking, considering that Doom, and specifically Czarface, have had beats that sound relatively the same to the ones on Czarface Meets Metal Face for at least a decade now. The constituency is appreciated however, and the beats do what they need to to provide a playing field for the rappers to work with.

   What's most important to examine with this album, is how it stands up lyrically. MF DOOM fans will be glad to know that every rapper has more or less an equal amount of time on each song on the album. Songs are structured in a very simple manner, where rappers Inspectah Deck, Esoteric, and MF DOOM take turns having their verse on track after each hook. The structure works well enough for what the album is trying to accomplish lyrically, however it would have been nice to hear some mix up in the structure and have the rappers trade off between lines, rather than just verses. Thematically, most of the lyrics follow the usual "I'm the best rapper out there" vibes. Take Inspectah's line on one of the album's singles "Bomb Thrown" for example:

Scars and blood, from the deadly bars I bust
In Czar we trust, the army buy they bombs off us
Blog about it naysayer, you can hardly doubt it

   Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but it makes for an album that grows stale after the first couple of listens. Honestly speaking though, I would take these generic Czarface and MF DOOM lyrics over most pop hip hop lyrics any day. There's a lot of cleverness to the lines, with well thought out puns and rhymes that are to be expected of such rap geniuses that they claim to be. 

   Overall, Czarface Meets Metal Face isn't anything overly incredible or game changing, especially when compared to each respective rapper's peak work, but it's still an enjoyable and well built album nonetheless. It's one of those rap albums you can throw on in the background while studying for an exam and just mellow out to the solid beats and the clean flow of lyrics.

Favorite Tracks: Meddle with Metal, Forever People, Bomb Thrown



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