Czarface soars above the clouds

Hip-hop
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  February 11, 2013

czarface

Back in the day, a young indie MC from Boston was more likely to have Michael Jackson stop by his house to pee than he was to collaborate with a premier rap superstar. So in 1998, it was certifiably outrageous for 7L and Esoteric to be at a studio in Brooklyn, waiting to record a track with Inspectah Deck. They were subterranean scrubs — two white neophytes fresh out of Salem State University. Deck was a lethal Wu-Tang Clan lyricist — a rapper's rapper who'd just ripped the greatest guest verse of all time on Gang Starr's "Above the Clouds." But through a buddy who was managing the Boston duo while also working at Deck's New York label, Loud, they arranged the unfathomable, and scored a stunning Clan cameo for their debut EP.

The resulting banger, "Speaking Real Words," earned major college radio burn in 1999. It also inspired some old-fashioned hip-hop hatred in the 'hood, according to Eso: "It pissed a lot of kids off who were scratching their heads asking, 'How the fuck did they put this together?' "

All these years later, Deck offers an answer, pointing out that they met before the age of shameless pay-for-play collabos. "This wasn't a money thing," he says. "I wanted to explore outside the Wu parameters."

Thanks to that sort of scientific thinking, those parameters soon evaporated, with fringe hip-hoppers of all stripes uniting to preserve rap integrity. 7LES compadres Jedi Mind Tricks delivered GZA on some classic tracks; in 2005, Wu-affiliate Dreddy Kruger dropped an entire project dubbed Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture. As for Deck and his Boston comrades — their relationship lasted, and it re-culminated on "12th Chamber," a glorious smack of raw reunion gold off the 2010 7LES album 1212.

This week 7LES and Deck drop Czarface (Brick Records), a full-length work of adventurous genius revolving around a metal-clad protagonist who feeds on destruction. The 7L soundtrack rides like a graffiti-stained freight train barreling through multiple rap dimensions, while Deck and Esoteric go head-to-head and blow-for-blow in round after glorious round of verse, only occasionally surfacing for air so that other leather-lung contenders like Ghostface, Vinnie Paz, and Action Bronson can jump into the scrum.

"Everybody brings a different element," says 7L, "but if we didn't already have a real relationship with Deck, Czarface wouldn't have sounded so complete, like it was meant to happen." Adds Esoteric: "It definitely opens up a new chamber, so to speak, and a new element of what we're doing. I've been inspired by Deck since Wu-Tang first came out, and a challenge like this gets the best out of me." Deck concurs: "[Esoteric] was young Anakin then; now he wields his light saber like a true Jedi. One that even rivals Master Yoda."

»  CFARAONE@PHX.COM

CZARFACE + APATHY + MASSTAPEACE + GREEN LINE INBOUND ::  Middle East, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge :: February 22 :: 8 pm :: 617.864.3278 or  mideastclub.com

  Topics: Music Features , Inspectah Deck, Wu Tang Clan, Esoteric
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY CHRIS FARAONE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   THE TRIALS OF NADIA NAFFE  |  March 04, 2013
    Young, attractive, ambitious, conservative, and black, Nadia Naffe should have been a right-wing operative’s dream.
  •   HIP-HOP TRIVIA GROWS UP  |  February 26, 2013
    In their fourth year of operation, the Hip-Hop Trivia squad is finally taking the night (somewhat) seriously.
  •   OCCUPY DENIED DAY IN COURT  |  February 22, 2013
    It took more than a year for Suffolk County prosecutors to come to their senses.
  •   CZARFACE SOARS ABOVE THE CLOUDS  |  February 11, 2013
    This week 7LES and Inspectah Deck drop Czarface , a full-length work of adventurous genius revolving around a metal-clad protagonist who feeds on destruction.
  •   THE BPD ADDS INSULT TO INJURY  |  February 05, 2013
    At times, this kind of decision makes you wonder whether the BPD is saving its best awards for officers who've been involved in the death of civilians.

 See all articles by: CHRIS FARAONE