Review Summary: The godfather of southern rap delivers his best, most consistent album
After the break up of the Geto Boys, their most notorious member released his third and best album to date. More streamlined and with less filler than his previous effort, “The Diary”
is filled with violent gangsta tales but also with some very thought provoking tracks. The brevity of the album makes it very easy to listen to especially since it has several amazing tracks.
On “The Diary,”
Scarface strikes a good balance between the usual tales of drugs or murder and compelling observations of life in the ghetto. The track “No Tears,” is a perfect synopsis of the album, after one of his friend’s funeral he’s looking for revenge: “An eye for an eye, so now your life is what you owe me,”
mourning the death of his friend but now concerned with murdering the culprit. Towards the end of the track, Scarface also shows the fear of losing his mind: “I'm goin off on the deep end, I find myself face to face with myself while I'm sleepin.”
Over a simple bass-heavy beat that really is nothing special but fit’s the mood of the song, a theme that continues throughout the album.
In his twenty years in the game, it’s hard to find a more powerful song in Scarface’s extensive discography than “Seen a Man Die.” This track talks about a young man who just got out of prison which somehow evolves into talking about death with the chilling lyrics: “I watch him die and when he dies let us celebrate”
over a thumping bass line and some appropriately eerie strings that enhance the dramatic effect of the lyrics. If you watch the video to this track you can truly feel it’s power when you see Scarface as the embodiment of death standing over a young man in a hospital bed who is battling between life and death:
“I hear you breathin' but your heart no longer sounds strong
But you kinda scared to die and so you hold on
And you keep on blacking out cause and your pulse is low
Stop trying to fight the reaper just relax and let it go
Because there's no way you can fight it though you'll still try
And you can try it til you fight it but you'll still die
Scarface is joined by Ice Cube on “Hand of the Dead Body” which is a counterattack on the media for their portrayal of gangsta rap and he also reprises the best known Geto Boys track on the Isaac Hayes sampling “Mind Playing Tricks On Me ‘94.” The tracks “One” and “Goin’ Down” seem a bit out of place and somewhat disrupt the album’s flow, just tired tales of weed and hos that aren’t terrible but don’t really keep with “The Diary’s”
The slick, understated production done by usual Scarface collaborators Mike Dean and N.O. Joe is solid if unspectacular but serve to highlight Scarface’s booming voice and powerful lyrics. While his lyricism may not be jaw-dropping, it’s good and his voice really commands your attention.
is without a doubt Scarface’s magnum opus and as far as content, it stands head and shoulders above the rest of his discography. While tracks like “The White Sheet” and “Jesse James” are simply trigger happy murder raps, a lot of the album contains much deeper subject matter and that’s what makes this a truly compelling listen.
Seen a Man Die
Hand of the Dead Body