It would be safe to say Hip Hop needs a hero. The genre is lacking something, at least in the groups who stand under the limelight. The spotlight seems to breed mediocrity while still guaranteeing a great payday. That’s never a strong combination for creative juices to flow. So where does one turn for a hero? What signal can we shine in the night sky to bring down a man to avenge bad Hip Hop, and set the world straight? I’ve found such a hero. I found him in 2013. His name is Czarface.
Realistically this hero is more on the level of Voltron than Spider-Man. Czarface is formed by three distinct personalities, each carrying equal power to demolish boring rappers, and elevate the game. Forming the left and right side of Czarface is Wu-Tang icon Inspectah Deck, and Boston bred rapper Esoteric. Czarface’s head belongs to producer/DJ 7L, he holds the hero together, he also whips up some sick beats, and that’s just the beginning. The Czarface I encountered in 2013 was a different beast than he is now. Sure the rhymes are there, how could you question either MC? Deck is a linguistic Jedi, flipping around in his word flow. Esoteric spins words together like a battle rhyme Spider-Man. The music is still some of the best in the genre. 7L has a magic way with meshing beats, samples and random oddities.
However, in 2015 shit gets weird. Czarface has unleashed Every Hero Needs A Villain, and in doing so they have called out just about everybody in the world of Hip Hop. The gauntlet has been thrown down. Every Hero Needs A Villain is not, like its predecessor, a collection of great songs; it’s a concept record. Back at the Czar-cave, 7L is mixing like a mad scientist. Not just hard style beats, but random blips from cartoons, talk shows, news reports, even an interview with comic book legend Jack Kirby. Sprinkled into all that is feedback, noise, guitar riffs, and general chaos. 7L has raised the bar musically and dared Esoteric and Deck to climb up with him, which they do.
Deck and Esoteric are different artists. Trying to explain the differences in their flow would be akin to jumping through hoops to explain architecture. Trust me, these guys are the real deal. Deck and Esoteric aren’t just clever, they’re unique, they make you wish you could put words together like they do, and then spit them with the same level of skill. Sadly we can’t all be heroes; some of us must just enjoy what heroes do. Every Hero Needs A Villain is a wonderful evolutionary step for Czarface. To use a comic book analogy, their first album was X-Men #1; this record is Giant Sized X-Men #1. It’s gotten bigger, better and more interesting.
Every Hero Needs A Villain should be heard front to back. Each song depends on the other, though I will say I rewound “Nightcrawler” about ten times. That’s a Hip Hop classic right there. Not only are Esoteric and Deck in top form, “Nightcrawler” also reminds us just how good Method Man really is. Other guests include the incomparable MF Doom (seriously nobody can touch this guy), as well as RA The Rugged Man, Large Professor, JuJu, GZA and Meyhem Lauren. It’s like a Hip Hop Avengers, with Czarface leading the charge. What was it Jay Z said? “Rival crews get your black suits up”.
Every hero needs a villain, and every Hip Hop fan needs a copy of this record. Consider the game changed.