Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Czarface – Czartificial Intelligence LP – Stole The Ball Edition - Orange Vinyl (/5000)


Silver Age / Virgin (2023)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

Czarface is definitely releasing the most consistently great hip hop records today. Yes, there are folks (like Del) that still put out records that I enjoy immensely, but you can count on Czarface to put out an album every year or two and have it be great every single time. Czartificial Intelligence is the follow up to last year’s Czarmageddon and like that album, was launched on a Record Store Day related event, in this case, Black Friday.

The Record Store Day version of this album was a run of 5000 copies, was pressed on orange vinyl and had alternate artwork. But the biggest difference between the RSD version and the regular one is the inclusion of 2 bonus tracks not on any other vinyl version of the album. Which is a cool little bonus. But in digging around a bit, it seems that the versions available on streaming sites and MP3 also include these two extra tracks. I’m not mad that these songs are accessible to more people, but in some ways it makes me think that the normal version of the vinyl is just missing two songs, since they seem to exist everywhere else.

But back to the album itself, Czarface consists of Inspectah Deck and Esoteric on the mic and 7L handling production duties. They are one of very few hip hop acts that make records that feel like the Golden Era. The production sounds modern, but still clings on to the type of beats that connected with me as a teenager. It’s loud, with big drums and tons of low end. The samples are futuristic at times, leaning into the group’s comic book influences, but still sound warm and familiar. It’s a balancing act that very few can accomplish these days.

Lyrically, the subject matter definitely leans into what some might call nerdy territory. But, it’s material that resonates with me the same way that my mind was blown the first time I heard Das EFX and all of the pop culture references in their lyrics. Lots of highlights on this album, but in particular the two tracks where Kool Keith shows up are really memorable to me (though one of them, “Live and Czarnegie Hall,” is one of the RSD exclusive tracks).

All in all, it’s another great Czarface record. I’m always grateful that I stumbled across them a few years ago and am hopeful they keep leading the charge of hip hoppers that manage to still make records that connect with me.

Czarface – Czartificial Intelligence:

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