Opening with a (very good) impression of the ‘80s wrestler Macho Man Randy Savage outlining an upcoming bout, ‘Czarface Meets Ghostface’ makes its anachronistic approach clear from the start: this is gonna be some weird Wu-Tang-flavoured shit.
Czarface, a series of collaborations between producer 7L, rapper Esoteric and Wu-Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck, has quietly been one of the more exciting Wu–Tang offshoots in recent years. Add Dreck’s old sparring partner Ghostface Killah to equation and this new record becomes a project on par with the cosmic-level comic books Marvel release every summer.
The cut-up method runs throughout ‘CMG’, as wrestling monologues, film clips, old films and classic cartoons are combined to create 12 bizarre soundscapes for MC Esoteric, Inspectah Deck and Ghostface to spit over. Expect an album where turn-of-the-century police officers beat up vampires before referencing Biggie. William S. Burroughs would be proud.
On the vocal side of things, the rappers work on a tag team – rather than triple-threat – basis. On many tracks, Czarface’s MC Esoteric and Inspectah Deck keep your head on a swivel, flitting in and around each other, posting up quick wordplay combos before Ghostface comes in to land the killer blows while you’re distracted. ‘Czarface Meets Ghostface’ isn’t quite as seamless in its vocal interplay as the 2018 album ‘Czarface Meets Metalface’ (where MF Doom provided a more subtle layering to the team up), and some early tracks may leave you wondering if all parties were present in the booth when vocals were recorded.
Things noticeably pick up towards the end of the album, where ‘Czarface Meets Ghostface’ does away with the notion of team-up and slides into a more orthodox groove. Eighth track ‘Super Soldier Serum’ is a stand-out effort on which Ghostface Killah stomps around and breathes fire over a superb, stomping beat that’s the aural equivalent of a Godzilla-sized beast.
Bars such as “I’m low key like a government official / Deep under the surface like a piece of bone gristle” are some way from Ghostface’s best, but the joy of ‘CMG’ is there’s always a fun in the mise en scène to distract the listener; the album’s inner momentum offsets any occasional wrong direction.
Formed in 2013 and now into its fourth album, Czarface is perhaps best described as a collection of freewheeling comic book rogues. Some villains are weird, some deadly – but none are boring.