Czarface

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Czarface
Studio album by Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric
Released February 19, 2013
Recorded 2012
Genre Hip hop
Length 46:41
Label Brick Records
Producer 7L, DJ Premier, Spada4
Inspectah Deck chronology
Manifesto
(2010)
Czarface
(2013)
7L & Esoteric chronology
1212
(2010)
Czarface
(2013)
Wu-Tang Clan solo chronology
Masta Killa:
Selling My Soul
(2012)
Czarface
(2013)
Ghostface Killah:
Twelve Reasons to Die
(2013)

Czarface is a collaborative studio album by American rapper Inspectah Deck and underground hip hop duo 7L & Esoteric. The album was released on February 19, 2013.[1] The album features guest appearances from Roc Marciano, Oh No, Ghostface Killah, Action Bronson, Cappadonna and Vinnie Paz. The albums production comes from 7L, Spada4 and DJ Premier.[2]

Background[edit]

In February 2013, during an interview with HipHopDX, Inspectah Deck spoke about the origins of the album, saying: "I really don’t think there were a lot of goals or things like that. For me right now, it’s taking off better than anticipated because I guess I underestimated the people’s need to hear something worth listening to. So I did [CZARFACE], I’ve done a couple records with 7L & Esoteric back in the day with “Speaking Real Words” and another ["12th Chamber"]. I’ve done two songs with them already, and we built up a lot of buzz just off of those two songs, and it took a while. I went on tour with the [Wu-Tang] Clan, but we all talked about it a while ago—about doing this type of project. It all just came together at the right time, and the whole CZARFACE thing was supposed to be a hero to save Hip Hop. I didn’t really have the whole cartoon, comic book vision all in my head at that time. I sat down with Esoteric, he brought that thought to light and I thought that would be a good idea. A lot of the real Hip Hop heads, the true school Hip Hop generation, they know what that cover’s all about. We grew up with those comic books, some of us are still die-hard fans of that, and I thought bringing that together with just being the classic Hip Hop beats and rhymes of the '90s and before. I thought that combination was going to bring something to the game. I think CZARFACE is the blue-collar album of Rap right now. I think it’s the Detroit Pistons when they won with Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace and them. They really had no star but the whole team was blue-collar, and everybody gave that effort. I think this is one of those underdog albums that, when the smoke clears from all of those big guns going off, you’re still going to hear these shots going. I listened to the project really head-to-toe for the first time the other day and I’m like, “It sounds good man.” Just let it play from beginning to end, that’s how we used to do when we had cassette tapes; just let it roll then go to the other side. I think this is one of those personally, just listening to the sound I think. We leaked three songs—the one with Roc Marciano ["Cement 3's"], the one with Action Bronson [“It’s Raw”] and the one ["Shoguns"] with Vinnie Paz. I believe that created a real buzz for it right now, so it’s getting good feedback and a good vibe. I think this is one of the smart choices for 2013."[3]

Esoteric also spoke about the origins of the album, saying:

"Basically it started out as 7L’s idea to put out something like a white label or kind of a diamond in the rough slab of vinyl that really had no promotion at all and was just kind of leaked out there. You know we still have that '90s mentality. With me and [Inspectah Deck] on the mic [and] 7L on production, we were just going to have it sneak out. As we started recording, we thought we could actually sell this, so we started to conceptualize the idea of CZARFACE and having that be the name of the group. The character represents the three of us when we’re on the mic and doing damage or whatever. The idea was to make a few records, keep it really lyrical and give the people what they wanted and expect from the Wu-Tang Clan’s most heralded swordsman so to speak, and me and 7L from Boston. So it was just doing what we do in the past but just come out swinging in 2013."[3]

Esoteric also spoke about the features on the album, saying:

"It was just important for us to work with lyricists that we respect and just keep it a really organic record. We’re not trying to dial in an Akon hook or something like that that’s going to make a record blow up in a way that doesn’t really suit us. I think the natural thing to do is to get some Wu members, some members from my crew—we’ve got Vinnie Paz on the record. Everyone was really excited and easy to work with because they saw our vision. Obviously the Wu guys with an allegiance to Deck just made it a real easy thing. And 7L wanted to get Action Bronson and Roc Marciano on the record ‘cause these guys are really poppin’ right now. It might add a little flavor to the record for maybe a younger listener who is more in-tuned to what they’re doing right now, and obviously they destroyed it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, so it was just a good fit for the album."[3]

Esoteric also spoke about the comic book inspired album cover, saying: "Well that was something that I wanted to do for the album. One of the things that always stood out to me with Deck was that he’d reference superheroes every once in a while—something about the claws of Wolverine, Peter Parker…all these different things. I’ve always been into comic books, and I think our discography kind of shows everything with that. But I kinda think that’s how we meet too, and if we had a figurehead for the album, I came up with CZARFACE the name. I ran it by Deck, and he loved it, and then I had to find an artist that kind of brings CZARFACE to life. I wanted it to be very Jack Kirby influenced. I just love Jack Kirby’s art. Lamour Supreme, who works for Mishka, had done stuff for Jack Kirby’s museum, and it made a lot of sense for him to do the art and he killed it. He developed CZARFACE based on the ideas I gave him, in terms of what I wanted it to look like and what he represented. I would reference Ultron and Major Blood and all these different metal-clad villains or heroes, and he just went with it. We’re really happy with what he created."[3]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Exclaim! 7/10[4]
HipHopDX 4/5 stars[5]
PopMatters 6/10[6]
Q 4/5 stars[7]
XXL 4/5 stars (XL)[8]

Czarface was met with generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 78, based on 6 reviews, which indicates "positive reviews".[9] Omar Burgess of HipHopDX gave the album four out of five stars, saying "CZARFACE has no major flaws. It’s obviously not for everyone, yet even when incorporating current critical favorites like Action Bronson and Mr. MFN eXquire, no compromises are made. Inspectah Deck, 7L & Esoteric use '90s East Coast Hip Hop as a blueprint to innovate, and ultimately, that’s what made that era so special in the first place."[5] Bogar Alonso of XXL gave the album an XL, saying "Mention of the ‘90s, hip-hop’s supposed last golden era, might make some queeze, and for good reason. Hip-hop purists have long sucked on the decade like a warm thumb, afraid of the cold, mean world that lay ahead. But CZARFACE, also the name for Deck and co.’s group, keeps matters as fresh. The album’s marquee—with names like Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, and Mr. MFN eXquire—assures just that. “Cement 3’s,” “It’s Raw,” and “Poisonous Thoughts”―listed in the order of appearance of the guests mentioned―come off as love letters rather than industry rub-offs. If the above trio were operating in the late ‘90s, they’d be dropping similar heat."[8]

Bryan Hahn of The Source gave the album a positive review, saying "Czarface doesn't fall short of what it wanted to accomplish-knocking the chumps out the ring. It doesn't pretend to deliver positive messages for the kids or even tell heart wrenching stories about the hood. Plain and simple, 7L masterminded sinister beats while Esoteric and Inspectah Deck recruited some fellow emcees to show the potential of the often-mislead art of lyricism can sound like. Long live, Czarface."[10] Matthew Fiander of PopMatters gave the album a six out of ten, saying "Song to song we see confident production and expert rhyming from guys we know can do both. But while Inspectah Deck may be one of the most effortless emcees in Wu-Tang, he’s not the most narrative. Neither is Esoteric. So while the songs here bang in all the ways you want, they rarely catch you off guard and they rarely tell you where they’re going. Not that they need to, but that sense of direction, out of the past and toward something new, might have elevated a good album to something great."[6] Mark Bozzer of Exclaim! gave the album a seven out of ten, saying "Minus all of the corny sound bites, this album undoubtedly keeps the underground renaissance sizzling."[4]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 34 on the US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in the first week of its release.[11]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s)[12] Length
1. "Czarface (Intro)"   7L 1:16
2. "Air ‘Em Out"   7L, Spada4 2:41
3. "Cement 3′s" (featuring Roc Marciano) 7L, Spada4 3:25
4. "Czar Refaeli" (featuring Oh No) 7L, Spada4 4:00
5. "Rock Beast"   7L, Spada4 2:55
6. "Savagely Attack" (featuring Ghostface Killah) 7L 3:20
7. "Marvel Team-Up"   7L 2:27
8. "It’s Raw" (featuring Action Bronson) 7L, Spada4 4:47
9. "Let It Off"   DJ Premier 4:22
10. "Word War 4"   7L 2:51
11. "Dead Zone"   7L 2:56
12. "Poisonous Thoughts" (featuring Mr. Muthafuckin' Exquire) 7L 4:04
13. "Shoguns" (featuring Cappadonna and Vinnie Paz) 7L 4:40
14. "Hazmat Rap"   7L, Spada4 2:57
Total length:
46:41

References[edit]

  1. ^ Horowitz, Steven J. (2013-01-07). "Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric "CZARFACE" Tracklist & Cover Art". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  2. ^ "Czarface: Inspectah Deck with 7L & Esoteric: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  3. ^ a b c d Meara, Paul (2013-02-11). "Inspectah Deck Says Esoteric Is "Up There" With Eminem & CZARFACE Is A "Friendly Duel"". HipHop DX. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  4. ^ a b Bozzer, Mark (2013-02-19). "Czarface - Czarface • Hip-Hop Reviews •". Exclaim.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  5. ^ a b Burgess, Omar (February 20, 2013). "Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric - Czarface". HipHopDX. Retrieved February 18, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Fiander, Matthew. "Czarface: Czarface". PopMatters. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  7. ^ "Czarface Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  8. ^ a b "CZARFACE (7L & Esoteric and Inspectah Deck), CZARFACE Review". XXL. February 20, 2013. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Critic Reviews for Czarface". Metacritic. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  10. ^ "Review: Czarface (Inspectah Deck + 7L & Esoteric) - Czarface". The Source. February 27, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums : Page 4". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  12. ^ "CZARFACE - CZARFACE - Vinyl LP Record [2LP] - Underground Hip Hop - Store". Underground Hip Hop. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  13. ^ "Czarface - Czarface (Extended Second Edition W/ Bonus Track) - Audio Cd - Underground Hip Hop - Store". Ughh.com. Retrieved 2013-10-12.