May has brought MF DOOM’s first posthumous project, a collab with East Coast based hip hop group Czarface. Super What? dropped on 7th May and it marks the second collaboration between DOOM, 7L, Esoteric and Wu Tang Clan’s Inspectah Deck. Super was initially proposed an April 2020 release, but Czarface chose to shelve it until the impact of Covid-19 and DOOM’s demise had died down before widespread distribution. The artwork of the album retains the Jack Kirby-inspired focus that the underground rap group has become known for.
Super further ties together the late Dumile and Czarface’s nerdcore rap niche. The result: Super is an album awash with geeky mentions. Filmic referencing aplenty: ‘Flip truth like Cliff Booth when he whipped Bruce’, ample Star Wars shouts (‘Mando Calrissian’) and Darth Vader soundbites, Game of Thrones (‘Break in the Action’) ‘Last name Lannister, Call me Kingslayer’, and constant Black Panther-heavy Marvel invocations litter this album. (‘This is Canon Now’).
Other highlights include the textured feature from Del The Funky Homosapien on ‘Jason and the Czargonauts’. This song even stays on-point with its contemporary referencing, stating loftily that the artists were pro-mask before the pandemic arrived. Esoteric’s Zoom meeting allusion in ‘Break in the Action’ revels in its exuberant topicality.
It is impossible, given the tragedy of the Supervillain’s recent passing, for the album not to evoke an unexpected flourish of nostalgia for DOOM’s past work. DOOM Unto Others was bombastic and DOOM embodies his Madvillainy flow while the beat’s dark, lethargic undertones reminded me of ‘Tick, Tick…’. DOOM’s drawling baritone flows on ‘Mando Calrissian’ echo the technical brilliance of a track like ‘THAT’S THAT’ or the recent pop-culture inspired grandiose partnership with BADBADNOTGOOD, ‘The Chocolate Conquistadors’. If anything, DOOM’s passing made me cherish each and every verse available on the album. Super repudiated the postulation that more unpublicised verses would forever stay in the locker.
Like DOOM’s input into this album however, the runtime is noticeably short, with only 10 tracks totalling 27 minutes. This lends to the interpretation for some that Super is not a full-bodied piece; not as resilient as DOOM and the East Coast group’s earlier project Czarface Meets Metal Face. Equally, ‘Young World’ struck me as a complete one-eighty thematically at the climax of this quirky comic-book based album. Switching conceptually to the motivational and almost preachy juxtaposed the themes running throughout the album’s main body. Moreover, the song contains plentiful likeness in tone and lyricism like the 2000s Fashawn’s track ‘Hey Young World’.
Perhaps, as has been referenced throughout the album, 2020’s bizarreness needed an antidote. Indeed, if you are looking for a bitesize remedy to the current climate as we emerge from the previous restrictions, then Super What? is exactly that: a much-needed ‘Break in the Action’ and vital piece of escapism.
Image Credit: Pitchfork