Review Summary: They might be the same tales of drugs and murder, but they’re just done better than most.
After three successful albums and the hit “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” all three Geto Boys: Scarface,Willie D and Bushwick Bill released solo albums. Brad Jordan aka Scarface (originally DJ Akshen) went on to be the runaway success of the group and that was established out of the gates with his debut. Although the Geto Boys were great as a unit, they were not succesful individually with the exception of Scarface who doesn't have to share the mic(no guest appearances!) on his debut, he gets away from the "Horrorcore" of his crew. There is plenty of violence here to be sure but it’s not as cartoonish as that of the Geto Boys, coupled with 'Face's ever present paranoia and fear of losing his mind.
The production, handled by Rap-A-Lot's in-house beatsmiths, compliments 'Face's booming voice and confident delivery. If any rapper was ever going to use soundbytes from the movie "Scarface"(and most do), you know that someone who goes by the same alias will do it and sure enough, it starts with "All I have in this world, All I have in this world." He goes into a tale of drug dealing on “Mr. Scarface” to open the album, although mostly with a relaxed, laid-back flow throughout, he kicks it up a notch for the up-tempo “Born Killer” over sped up soul samples, blazing horns and the obligatory “Scarface” sample “Don’t f**k with me” . The low point of the album is “The Pimp,” a very explicit sex tale that starts with “I like p***y, p***y's got me crazy” and ‘Face goes on to detail everything that goes on during this sexual escapade. Violence is abundant throughout with tracks like “Murder by Reason of Insanity,” “Your Ass Got Took, Body Snatchers” and “P D Roll 'Em” where he does the typical gangsta rap shtick.
For “Good Girl Gone Bad,” ‘Face spins a vivid tale about a drug deal gone bad where he displays his great storytelling ability. Even though his subject matter wasn’t much different from the typical gangsta rap, what separates Scarface from most is his great flow and forceful delivery that demands your attention. “Diary of a Madman” recalls the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” ‘Face feels like he’s going out of his mind, over a mid-tempo funk sample with lyrics like:
I try to talk to my dad, but my old man ignores me
He says I'm delirious And I drink too much, so he doesn’t take me serious
But little does he know I'm really losing it
I got a head, but aint no screws in it
He talks about this being an entry in the diary of a madman because there’s no one else to talk to and having all these thoughts on his mind “I be thinking deep, that’s one of the reasons at night I cant sleep” he does this so convincingly that the listener truly believes that this person is crazy, closing with “My wife walked out now I'm living in my diary.” The highlight of the album has to be “A Minute to Pray and a Second to Die,” backed by carefully layered Marvin Gaye samples that reflect the somber mood ’Face spits:
Life goes on in the streets of my hood when you die
But some cry, and gets by, while others choose to wonder why..
His life was took at such an early age
A young n***a who lived in a rage died by the gauge
This track is like a flip side to “Money and the Power,” where as one glorifies this lifestyle, the other shows that it doesn’t always work out and now there’s a child that will grow up without a father. Album closer “I’m Dead” is a “Sixth Sense” type track where ‘Face is going about his day until he senses that something’s not right so he decides to take a trip
I'm going to the cemetery to peep out Akshen's gravesite
And sure enough, there it is
My mom and girl talking, holding on to Brad's kids
I look into the box G
Son of a b***h! I don't believe it, that's me!
Momma kissed me on my head
Aww sh*t… I'm dead
Along with the Geto Boys, Scarface was one of the founding fathers of southern rap and probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he’s not from New York or L.A. but he is one of the best MC’s to ever do it and this was the first offering of his long and illustrious career.