Ivan the Terrible would be proud

Spencer Doar

“Czarface,” a collaboration between Inspectah Deck and 7L & Esoteric, was officially released today. It’s another solid installment in the canon of Wu-Tang spin-off efforts. That is not to denigrate Esoteric by putting Inspectah Deck first—Esoteric’s associates speak volumes for his own talent. Just think of the super group Army of the Pharaohs and collabs with Vinnie Paz, Celph Titled and Apathy. 7L, the producer, is far from a slouch too. It’s got the gritty edge that one would expect from guys with cement in their veins and the hard, but intelligent, lyrics of proven wordsmiths. It’s one of those albums that you can tell is going to be good from just the opening. This intro elicits cage-fight hype before jumping into “Air ‘Em Out.” With its solid hook, “Air ‘Em Out” catches what ought to be already intrigued listeners. The third track, “Cement 3’s,” further pulls the listener down the rabbit hole. The beat is only like a bar long and doesn’t differentiate itself a ton; making it sound like skipping vinyl. This seemingly flawed aspect is actually a benefit: With solid flows over beats like this one, it can be addictively trancelike. “Rock Beast,” playing fifth, vies for the honor of being one of the best tracks on the album. Its organ, Batman references and (typical for the album) thick drums are enough to win you over instantly. Not to say that the Batman shout-outs are unusual; “Czarface” is full of pop-culture references. “World War 4” leaves its mark with the funky backing of what sounds like the theme from a 70s cop show and samples from George Carlin. Last, “Hazmat Rap,” with its blunt, radioactive synth, is a perfect closing track and one of the best on the album. I wanted more than 45 minutes.