Czarface / Ghostface Killah

Czarface Meets Ghostface

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Comic-inspired hip-hop supergroup Czarface's 2018 collaboration with MF Doom was cool, but it was ultimately somewhat underwhelming, as the masked one just didn't seem to be fully committing to the project, and his presence felt phoned-in. Fortunately, the same cannot be said of Czarface Meets Ghostface. Everyone brings their A-game here, and it feels more like the type of intergalactic battle worthy of the Marvel-style cover art. 7L and Jeremy Page, billed as the Czar-Keys, construct inventive beats which are heavy, strong, and detailed, yet don't distract from the rhymes. The production is filled with tense, distorted basslines, haunting organs, and fuzzy '70s funk-rock guitars, along with dense collages of turntable scratches and sound bytes (particularly on "Powers and Stuff," which features an amusing montage of kids screaming out "Czarface!" and "Ghostface!"). The six-minute "Listen to the Color" progresses through several sections, switching the beat up a few times and steadily increasing the drama. Two of the album's best songs feature key appearances by singer Kendra Morris; she taunts "Don't push me" throughout "Iron Claw," while her haunting chorus elevates the horror during "The King Heard Voices." As for the MCs, Ghostface shows up right on schedule and immediately kills it, of course, but Inspectah Deck and Esoteric are just as powerful. All three of them are equally adept at delivering gripping narratives as well as razor-sharp lyrical attacks. Ultimately, the rappers' styles seem to complement each other rather than clash. Perhaps wisely, the album doesn't follow a concrete storyline, so there's no burden of having to conform to a particular concept (and no obligation to declare a winner or loser). It's just one rock-solid blast after another, each one showcasing the involved parties at their sharpest and mightiest.

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