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INSPECTAH DECK, 7L & ESOTERIC: Czarface (2013)

It’s the return of comic-book/ gangster film-inspired backpack rap everybody! Thrill to the boom, gasp at the bap as swathes of fanboys come out of retirement and shake the moths from their Carhartts and Eastpaks. Czarface finds core Wu-Tang member Inspectah Deck team up with a pair of the Boston underground’s finest – 7L & Esoteric – for a fourteen track album-length reprise of the first time they hooked up fourteen years ago on 7LES’s Speaking Real Words EP.

Obviously Esoteric and Deck take the lion’s share of mic duties but our hip-hop czars have been joined by a Duma of heavyweight names too – a veritable Marvel team-up of pedigree rhymers, if you will, to wit: fellow Wu-Tangers Ghostface Killah and Cappadonna, DJ Premier, Roc Marciano, Action Bronson, Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks, Oh No and Mr MFN Esquire. Serious stuff then.

Production-wise, Premier’s in charge of the beat on Let It Off while 7L holds it down everywhere else. And maybe it’s the heavy Wu-Tang presence but both Premier’s track and a number of the Esoteric ones feature RZA-esque motifs like minimal strings or pianos – Cement 3s or the Ghostface-featuring Savagely Attack are typical. Basically expect Czarface to be reliably gritty rather than groundbreaking in, say, the mould of 7LES project A New Dope.

In summary, Czarface isn’t going to get the party started and or put your girlfriend in the mood but it does have the fanboy/ head-nod corner of the market locked down tighter than a vice grip. There’s going to be rooms of grown men gathered around PS3s everywhere in the developed world with this playing in the background.
(Out 19 Feb. on Brick Records)

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