Czarface & MF DOOM – ‘Super What?’ review: rappers’ riotous superhero hijinks

The first record to feature the late, great DOOM – who sadly died at the end of 2020 – is surprisingly light on his contributions, but good fun nonetheless

MF DOOM’s first posthumous release – and, after 2018’s ‘Czarface Meets Metal Face’, the late British-American MC’s second collaboration with underground hip-hop collective Czarface – was supposed to be released last April. Well, COVID happened. Even supervillains aren’t immune to global pandemics.

Had ‘Super What?’ dropped as planned, this short, loose, fun record would likely have been viewed as an interesting curio in both acts’ careers. Appearing now, seven months after DOOM’s passing, it’s a release difficult to listen to independent of the poignancy of life and death. This sense of gravitas is something the record’s creators couldn’t have envisioned when spitting silly bars about “cream cheese and jelly” (on the excellent ‘Jason and the Czargonauts’, featuring Del the Funky Homosapian). And yet with that voice broadcast from beyond the grave – dank and dusty, impossibly cool – everything DOOM shares here feels precious. We’re forced, unwittingly, to ask if the record feels like a fitting epitaph to a one-off, generational talent.

‘Super What?’ is, unsurprisingly, nothing of the sort. For one thing, its DOOM quota is surprisingly small. There’s an excellent, breathless passage on the squelchy ‘DOOM Unto Others’, which is as idiosyncratic as anything the man committed to tape, but elsewhere DOOM largely plays second fiddle to Czarface’s 7L, Esoteric and sometime Wu-Tang cohort Inspectah Deck. DOOM doesn’t even feature on the record’s best tune, the superhero homage ‘This Is Canon Now’, the song’s labyrinthine rhymes giving props to the Fantastic Four, Ant-Man, Luke Cage and the late, great comics writer Jack Kirby. The record is short, too – despite its running to 10 tracks, nothing here exceeds four minutes.

But is the record good? Unquestionably. Is it fun? Very. Opener ‘The King and Eye’, featuring Run DMC’s Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels, is riotous from the giggling that precedes the track onwards. It’s often said that Esoteric’s voice recalls the clipped drawl of Jay-Z, but here the similarities aren’t merely linguistic – the Czarface MC rhyming atop production that wouldn’t feel out of place segued into Hova’s seminal ‘The Blueprint’.

Advertisement

DOOM’s output will most likely continue posthumously; already confirmed is a remix of ‘Tonight May Have To Last Me All My Life’ on The Avalanches‘ forthcoming 20th anniversary edition of their debut ‘Since I Left You’. What else sits in DOOM’s vaults remains to be seen and heard. But for now, dip into ‘Super What?’ with expectations low and a good time is likely.

Details

Release date: May 7

Record label: Silver Age

Advertisement
Advertisement