You would not be wrong to think that the cover art for Czarface's A Fistful of Peril looks like the front of an old superhero comic book.
Unsurprisingly, this album sounds exactly like what reading one of those comics should feel like: action-packed, hard-hitting and nostalgic.
A Fistful of Peril is the third collaborative studio album from Wu-Tang Clan's Inspectah Deck and the hip-hop duo 7L & Esoteric, collectively known as Czarface. With 13 colorful tracks running at just under 36 minutes, Inspectah Deck and Esoteric's wordplay dominate every track they team up on.
Esoteric's rap style is uniquely known throughout the underground for his use of comic book references, which were original inspirations for the persona of Czarface. In an interview with Nothing But Comics, the Boston emcee emphasized the strong combination of his and Deck's rap styles, which allowed them to be more experimental and fun in their approaches to comic book styled rap.
"We can tell compelling stories, and Deck is exceptional at that when working with Wu-Tang Clan," said Esoteric. "But for Czarface, we have more fun going with an abstract route with wordplay, punchlines and sprinkling some heroic or villainous imagery on top."
Being quite a comic book fan myself, I took great pleasure in Esoteric's references throughout the project, especially on the distorted, drum-fueled "Two In The Chest" when he references Superman's archnemesis Lex Luthor in some truly villainous rhymes.
"We in the house, two doors down from two tours now/ Evil as Luthor's style, the crew's all wild," raps Esoteric. "The price of death never been cheaper/ And you ain't gotta notify your next of kin neither." In the same track, Deck references his cemented position within hip-hop and as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, then justifies his status with some of the most dark-witted lines on the track.
"Hit 'em with a quick clip like I'm posting a Vine," proclaims Deck. "Off of the bread, violators, off with their head. Rather walk off to ledge before talking to Feds."
Deck also demonstrates his subtle super hero savvy lines in "Revenge on Lizard City."
"Get it right sir, I, global mogul," he boasts, "Flex super power like I changed in the phone booth." The project has few features from mainly underground artists, such as Psycho Les, Conway, Blacastan and Rast Rfc.
However, the most noteworthy and memorable feature comes from Action Bronson's good friend and peer, Meyhem Lauren, who delivers harsh verses on the horror-movie reminiscent "Steranko." It's worth mentioning that producer and DJ 7L also does an excellent job by making this track easily distinguishable as the album's most ominous.
A Fistful of Peril is a wild, nostalgic experience, much in part because of 7L's classic producing style. In addition, Inspectah Deck and Esoteric's lyrical abilities compliment each other to form some of the deadliest and laugh-out-loud bars of this year. There is no need to visit a comic book shop to be transported into the mad world of Czarface, all you need to do is press play.