Inspectah Deck & 7L & Esoteric – Czarface Review

By SUNEZ

This Writer writes whatever the fuck he wants to.  The limitation is understanding so who knows my bounds only knows of infinity approached verbatim.  So that infinite shit? The shit that make the pen turn corners is… innovation.  Nothing else.  Listen…

Recently NPR (Adrian Younge interview link) aired an interview with producer Adrian Younge, who discussed his recent productions that include an album with William Hart of the Delfonics and another entitled 12 Reasons to Die, with Ghostface Killah. He specifically mentioned something Scott Sanders had told him (of which the understanding this writer had first read from Nelson George in his excellent Hip Hop America book) and how he saw it.  Younge noted, “that when a black person is done with something, they leave. The Black culture does not go back. When they’re done, they are out. And what happens is that white people come in and they go back and they study and bring a different approach to it and preserve what a lot of black people did. The reason why I say that here is I’m that white guy. I’m the black dude that loves old black culture. I also love old white culture. I just love history, but I’m the guy that wants to bring things back and push them forward. A lot of black people don’t like that kind of stuff. They don’t like doing that kind of stuff.”  Despite listening to no Hip Hop, seeming as disassociated as possible from Hip Hop as one could be he is as Hip Hop as one ought and should be.  Hip Hop is the only massively commercialized Black culture in the Americas (from the United States through the English and Spanish Caribbean and Latin America) to overtly study the past and out rightly use it as building blocks to make new works.  It is with its own distinct code of ethics that is obstructed by commercialist mis-telling and the pop audiences’ desire to assimilate it.  However, it is fortified by its own competitive ethos of rebellious originality.  It fights a massive contradiction with the truth of Younge’s quote above for the greatest innovation.

With that said, Wu-Tang Clan is always at the forefront of fighting that contradiction as their careers age yet continue innovating.  With Czarface, many of these insights are drawn out.  Inspectah Deck is one of the rare MCs with countless classic verses that one can immediately karaoke through.  Bombing automatically where Socrates philosophies and high prophecies can’t define him primarily on Wu-Tang group albums and RZA productions, his solo career may be the most unfulfilled triumphs of the 9 generals.  With a flow that is perfectly syncopated syllable to syllable, attaining great speeds and dramatic halts without misstep, his excellent 1999 Uncontrolled Substance debut LP was marred by bootlegging and bad A&R work (from Loud Records and even the first Vibe.com plagiarism this writer personally experienced) resulting in replacements of strong tracks and an overall sound much cleaner than the original work.  After that his albums have been filled with the worst beat selection sans U-God.  2010’s The Manifesto, with its overproduced hipness was forgettable for an MC of Deck’s caliber.

Esoteric is not the expected choice for a collaboration with Deck, a superior MC of the most powerful group of all time.  If Deck is of the 90’s, Esoteric is hardly his equivalent in the 00’s by any measure.  However, he is excellent fuckin fodder for this understanding.  Simply, Esoteric is an MC of consistent quality, if not overwhelming dominance.  His consistency is in the decade where the underground became an arena where the white audience became its media and demanded its own artists.

By the 00’s the commercial arenas are filling full with phonies filing in with frivolous fare whilst the underground is deriving dividends with derivative documents by white devils…..WHOOOOOO!…..Who were the original makers and owners, the writers that really were there and those with pioneering flows?  There’s a time they learned Jazz and made it American classical.  There’s a time they learned our dunk shot and a time they learned our flow.  And Esoteric with a mastered flow and techniques de la biblia del PUN (i.e. “Poisonous Thoughts,” “Marvel Team Up”) mirrors the most successful white rappers (i.e. Vinnie Paz) of the 00’s to today (i.e. Action Bronson).  The good is that Art is for everyone to sincerely express themselves.  The bad is that this society awards pioneership and legendary status to clever imitators and/or lesser acceptables.  The ugly is that that legal tender rendered consistency accumulates for the diluted greater than the pure and uncut.  This all affects real Hip Hoppas, Black and Brown or white.

Now then, Deck and 7L & Esoteric as Czarface is a political move for Deck just because of Esoteric as a respected white MC.  But the music?  It’s not filled with the next shit but everything is head nodding hardcore and redeems Inspectah Deck and his flailing catalog.  Lyrically, there is little here but battle raps lined by more battle raps.  It all works because it isn’t supposed to fail.  Deck’s flow is on a supreme level on par with all his peers from PUN to AZ.  The sample interludes are cleverly found Madlib-style while the breaks are at a upper mid-tempo that lets bullshit writers say it’s 90’s condescendingly.   Still, while the Art (i.e. MF Doom’s Doomsday), sampling (i.e. Aretha’s keys on “Cement 3’s“), soundbites (Madlib to Dangermouse to Ghost’s Fishscale LP), breaks (i.e. “Rainmaker” for “It’s Raw“), flows and techniques that surround Inspectah Deck all are 00’s derivative of the 90’s era he emerges from, it is a necessary strong album Deck needs.  Czarface destroys any filth selling over it on the Billboard, offers vital regenerative proof of Deck’s greatness.  With this, it is possible he may then raise his Deck and be Inspectah over greater innovations his Wu-general brethren are engaging in.