2Pac. Biggie. Jay-Z. Nas. Scarface?
He should be included in that cast of hip hop legends but often times his name is omitted. Scarface is a gangsta-rap pioneer who has been around since the late 1980’s and who’s persona became one of hip hop’s most defiant in the early 90’s. “Face” has the coldest voice in the history of the musical genre and is one of the most respected lyricists to ever grace a microphone.
Yet, with all of this – he seems to be forgotten in barbershop arguments of “Who are the greatest MCs?” Scarface returns to the scene with “Deeply Rooted,” in trying to further cement a legacy which has seemingly been taken for granted.
Scarface is a real life, true to form, O.G. He shares his stories not to glorify the life on the streets, but to scare others away from it’s harsh realities. He opens up on “Rooted” with : “You win some, you lose some – life in a nutshell/ free all my [email protected] on lock down, f*ck jail/ I’ve seen enough hell, I’m never gonna live there/tattooed tear drops, sitting in a wheel chair. . .”
Most of the album’s production is handled by N.O. Joe and on tracks like “F*ck You Too” and “All Bad” he lays down piano chords with enough darkness and soul, respectively – which help cater to the voice of Scarface perfectly. On “F*ck You Too,” we find Scarface taking his time with his delivery. Like a well thought out storyteller would, he keeps the flow at a cadence that keeps the listener at the edge of every bar: “We all wanna eat, gotta feed folks / took an oath on the streets called the G-Code / that’s what we live by, die for it / I got homies standin’ firm doin’ time for it.” “All Bad” finds Scarface as a youth going to church and trying to prove in his young mind the allure of the streets.
Scarface’s growth as an artist has been clear for years and maybe for the first time since his album “The Fix” he touches on his spirituality with ease. Face has a way of never being “preachy” in his spirituality but he effortlessly invites his listeners to explore the depth of his vulnerabilities.
His paranoia is felt on “Steer” where Scarface seems to be in desperate need of a sane moment to take him away from his darkest thoughts: “Career still intact got my street cred/Went on with life thinking that the beef’s dead/ But every now and then I get flash backs/Get down on my knees and I ask that. . .Paranoid, got me running for my life now/ Homicide’s questioning my mama and my wife now/ Parking lot, full of cops, got the dogs out/Running, chest burning, out of breath/ About to fall out.”
He talks about the hell he raised as a teenager on “You” and how the stress he threw on his mother at the time will revisit him as a father now. Then he goes into more detail about his mother on the emotional “Voices” which is produced by M. Mac and J. Baum. The track has a steady bass kick supplied with a very melodic acoustic guitar – separating the sound on this track from most of the album. Scarface talks about living life with his mother gone and even the toughest of mama’s boys will feel this one: “I still often drift when I drive / the tears that drip down on my cheeks, emotionless mirrors with eyes / starin’ me down / a view of this soul/ a heart of a woman that’s cold / my conscience is weak/ she makin’ me weep / the only love I ever known / has left me alone. . .”
Scarface tells of a relationship he’s struggling to keep together in “Keep It Moving,” and even goes back to his O.G. ways on “Dope Man Pushin’” but he reaches a peak on this album with “God.”
“God” is easily one of the best rap songs released this year (with or without airplay) and once again the O.G. Brad Jordan a.k.a Scarface shares with his listener, his honesty. He breaks down “God” in three verses. The first being if he himself had a chance to be God for a day and what he would do “I would open up the gates let the world see my face/Remove all doubt from the ones without the faith. . . A safe place, for the young to come out if they wanna play/ and let their mamas know that they okay.” On the second verse he tackles the scenario if God took off for a day : “More souls never rest/A killer walks the streets seekin flesh/ A adolescent hangs she depressed. . .A father kills his son look at life it’s a mess/ Just imagine what would happen if the lord up and left.” Then in true Scarface fashion, he turns the whole story around and ask the listener what would they do if they found out their faith was a lie: “When all that you believed in was a lie/Are you willin’ to accept it when you find out/ Or try to reason with yourself that’s what it is when it’s not/ And all the whole while it’s been a plot.”
Sure there are questionable moves on this album like the unnecessary collaboration with Nas and Rick Ross on “Do What I Do” and “Anything” kind of drags on a little too long – but even then – it’s nitpicking. “Deeply Rooted” is yet another well crafted release by Scarface which will most likely and unfortunately go under the “commercial” radar.
Rating 8.5 out of 10