Czarface Collab 'Super What?' Does MF DOOM's Legacy Justice
Published May 11, 2021When a person dies, loved ones are often told to remember how they lived. Think of the times they were vibrant and carefree and in his element. The best version of themself.
So, as stunned as the rap world was on New Year's Eve upon learning that MF DOOM had died before he'd reached 50, his first posthumous release is a capsule of better days. A fun and fantastical reminder of the rapper born Daniel Dumile's wild imagination and unpredictable rhyme patterns that made us all root for the Villain to begin with.
Recorded in early 2020 and intended to drop in April of that year, Czarface and DOOM's second collaborative album, Super What?, was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic so its creators could focus on family and fine-tune its mix.
"We were incredibly fortunate to have collaborated with DOOM," lead vocalist Esoteric wrote in the announcement of the delayed project. "He was a one-of-a-kind, never-to-be-duplicated emcee, producer, and visionary. We wish peace and healing to his family, friends and everyone touched by the gifts he shared with the planet."
Following the spirit of 2018's Czarface Meets Metal Face — the first extended link-up between DOOM and the three-headed monster that is Czarface (producer/DJ 7L, Esoteric and Wu-Tang wordsmith Inspectah Deck) — Super What? bangs with sci-fi boom-bap, quirky sample chops and razor-sharp wordplay.
From the cover art (off the pen of longtime Czarface collaborator LAmour Supreme) to the meticulous stitching of vocal bites and a unique guest list dripping with personality (Del the Funky Homosapien, DMC, Kendra Morris, Godforbid), there is care taken to deliver the type of mythical world-making that does DOOM's legacy justice. (Orders of the physical LP will get you a comic book written by Esoteric and illustrated by Benjamin Marra.)
It's no stretch to believe that without DOOM's seminal 1999 album Operation: Doomsday, Czarface's entire superhero saga would lack an origin story. Dumile wore masks way before it was cool.
There isn't a trace of sentimentality to be found on Super What? The record — a tight, loopy, 10-track ride that clocks in at the length of a 1968 Spider-Man episode — is silly and funky and chock-full of quotables. These are grown rappers playing make-believe; their abandon is gleefully reckless. Putting himself in position of a Czarface victim, Deck wonders: "How they kill a body and still party like it wasn't them?" Esoteric boasts that he "jacked Iron Man for his suit and left him Stark naked." And DOOM vows to "make you eat a dick with chips and a Heineken." Yep, it's that kind of combo.
As ever, DOOM's writing is far and away the most esoteric of all (ironically). Like this jewel, from "Jason & the Czargonauts": "Snatched the bag like the Grinch, dag, it's a cinch / Snagged with the burner and ain't seen your man since / Irrelevant to tag if the swag is past tense / And karma swing backwards and drag, you can't flinch / A thrill you deserve to feel if your ass is that dense."
7L flips a killer Method Man sample on "Break in the Action." And LP closer "Young World" is a skippy, silly update on Slick Rick's '88 classic "Hey Young World," with Deck and Eso flipping Rick's rhyme patterns. Even the song titles ("Mando Calrissian," "DOOM Unto Others") hit like ka-blam!
Say What? is hardly DOOM's definitive work, but it gives us one last snapshot of a solitary mind that spurted in wonderfully volatile ways. In his own words, as hurled on the ghoulish "So Strange," this is DOOM "remaining weird, dancing 'round with evil."
We dare not remember him in any other state. (Gasdrawls)