Famed Wu Tang Clan member Inspectah Deck and underground hip hop duo 7l and Esoteric are back as their collaborative project Czarface with the release of their sophomore LP Every Hero Needs A Villain. Producer 7l and rapper Esoteric have been long term friends and collaborators to Inspectah Deck and many of Wu Tang’s members since they first dropped in the late nineteen nineties.
The duo solidified their connection to ‘The Inspector’ in 2013 when they released an entire self titled album with him under the collective pseudonym ‘Czarface’ and whilst this record was by no means bad, it certainly wasn’t turning many heads and seemed like a lot of Deck’s work outside of Wu Tang – pretty forgettable. Despite this, Czarface’s follow up album sees improvements being made on nearly all fronts.
Like the debut record, Every Hero Needs a Villain features 7l’s characteristic 90’s style boom-bap production coupled with gritty, clever rhymes from Inspectah and Esoteric however this time round, the instrumentals are far more detailed and colourful and both rappers seem to up their game as well, with more energetic flows and slicker rhymes. Like other Hip Hop acts such as Ghostface Killah or MF Doom, Czarface is heavily inspired by comic books and particularly super villains with various film and cartoon samples spread across the record, adding lots of character and providing a familiar yet still enjoyable way of segueing between tracks.
The album’s feature list is also impressive with The Inspector teaming up with his Wu Tang affiliates GZA and Method Man on the songs “When Gods Go Mad” and “Nightcrawler” – the latter having one of the album’s catchiest beats and being one of the most enjoyable tracks. Czarface also collaborate with the infamous fellow comic book enthusiast turned rapper MF Doom on the song “Ka-Bang” which has one of the record’s most skeletal instrumentals which for the most part features just a simple drum beat with some quirky samples appearing at different points throughout the song. Thankfully Doom, Inspectah Deck and Esoteric’s great verses fill the gaps in the song’s instrumental very well.
The album’s longest track “Escape From Czarkham Asylum” is also one of Every Hero Needs a Villain’s best and most interesting moments, it has a dynamic instrumental with several beat change ups throughout which Inspectah and Esoteric seamlessly transition into. “World Premier” is another one of the LP’s high moments, the song’s dark running bass line is matched by some equally gritty verses from Deck, Esoteric and Large Professor who comes through with what is yet another of this album’s great features.
Whilst Every Hero Needs a Villain does not signal a dramatic change in creative or sonic direction for any of the artists involved, there is still an obvious and significant improvement from their trio’s previous release which has me excited to see how they will follow it up. This record may even class as Inspectah Deck’s best work outside of Wu Tang Clan and will certainly rank highly in 7l and Esoteric’s discography too. Czarface’s Every Hero Needs A Villain is out now, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Tom Syme