It’s as though somebody scanned my brain and downloaded the folder called “rap collaborations Flash wants to see most.” I have alternately left albums by CZARFACE and MF DOOM in my car stereo for a couple of weeks straight, simply because there was nothing else I wanted to listen to more at the time and I found it impossible to make myself tired of them no matter how hard I tried. It takes a truly special kind of artist hip-hop or otherwise to earn that kind of longevity musically or lyrically. The CZARFACE collab’ of 7L & Esoteric with Wu-Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck was an instant winner, and Daniel Dumile has been a dope emcee dating back to the early 1990’s long before he donned the metal mask. Thus we have “CZARFACE Meets Metal Mask.” I’m not really egotistical enough to think this album was made JUST FOR ME but the first time I heard about it the idea crossed my mind and I’m sure that I’m not the only one.
This entire album has been produced by the “Czar-Keys,” which is just a clever way of saying the production team was 7L & Spada4. That kind of consistency is important for a super group album such as this. When you bring what’s already a hip-hop team up together with another rap legend it could be easy for each emcee to start calling shots. Egos could have easily fractured this album into thirds where 5-6 tracks apiece sounded like Wu-Tang Clan, underground Boston rap, and demented drunken Dumile. I’m tempted to call it a miracle that didn’t happen on “CZARFACE Meets Metal Face” but in truth Czarface already knew how to put their egoes aside for a group album, so all they really had to do was make the family a little bigger for this one and put Dumile on the roster. It doesn’t take long to see that this was an easy transition when listening to the stomping “Meddle With Metal.” My favorite line might be “Emcees used to be stupid def, now they just stupid and deaf” but there are plenty of dope bars to go around.
There are only two cameos on “CZARFACE Meets Metal Face” and given how big this idea is I don’t want or need any more than that. There I go making it ALL ABOUT ME again but I’m willing to bet the hardcore CZARFACE and/or DOOM fans out there feel the same way. “Phantoms” featuring Open Mike Eagle and “Astral Traveling” featuring Vinnie Paz are both good for different reasons, but there’s always been something about the gruff sounding Pazienza that I’ve found particularly appealing. He literally puts the grime in GRIMY and even though he might be a totally laid back dude in person he’s one of the most convincingly menacing spitters to ever put bars on wax. Perhaps it’s only fitting then that he drops a pro wrestling reference in his verse – he makes you believe the truth of what he’s saying the entire time he commands the mic.
“The one thing I learned from Eazy is be +Ruthless+
The bullets +Balls of Fire+ like Jerry Lee Lewis
The wasteline and shoulder strap is three Rugers
Them jump-out boys’d vic you, you’d be shoeless
Listen, you’d better listen to rules
Or this +British Bulldog+ gon’ rip through your jewels
Now his tail between his leg and he lickin his wounds
I’m a Cus D’Amato acolyte, I stick ’em then move
I rip ’em in two, I show ’em what the biscuit’ll do”
If you prefer the slurry drunken flow of DOOM then you’d perhaps gravitate more toward tracks like “Bomb Thrown” and “Forever People,” where Dumile clearly stands out even though he’s acting as part of a collective. Still it’s tracks like the aptly named “MF CZAR” that showcase the concept best as Deck, Eso and DOOM all play their part over a low and menacing bass that drills relentlessly into your head. These are not songs for light listening or a friendly introduction to hip-hop. “I’m fire in the summertime, cooking with more heat/Flow like DiCaprio, +Wolf+ of all beats” brags Deck on the dank “Nautical Depths,” and the patois chatter between verses amps it up before DOOM brings it back to the grappling arts with “No friendly warfare, this ain’t wrestling/There’s nothing staged over here, you’re tripping mescaline.”
It’s not often you can say that even the skits enhance an album, but tracks like “You Masked For It” bridge the comic book meets hip-hop world that every Czarface OR Dumile album strives for. The skits are even self-referential, pointing out previous albums like “Every Hero Needs a Villain” the same way a comic book editor would say “* see issue #86” in a square box on the same page to explain what some ne’er-do-well is talking about. And yes true believers these villains are definitely up to no good, but they’re just the anti-heroes you’ve been looking for. With beats and rhymes more punishing than Frank Castle, “CZARFACE Meets Metal Face” is the hip-hop for everyone who’s had it up to here with mumble mouthed singing emcees.