Brad Jordan, better known as Scarface, has a career that few can parallel. The Houston native didn't follow a path to hip hop stardom, he paved his own. Over a decade before the "southern" debate even began, Face and the Geto Boys carved out their place in hip hop below the Mason-Dixon. While he made his mark creating some of the games foremost classics with Willie D, Bushwick Bill, Big Mike and the like, it was on his own that his star really shone.
Despite the quality of Mr. Scarface Is Back and The World Is Yours, it wasn't until 1994's The Diary that people were forced to bow down. His ruthless gangster combined with his staggering poetics and his willingness to show vulnerability gave Face an appeal similar to Pac's. Eight years later he had yet another album that critics and fans alike drooled over in The Fix. For over 5 years now, fans have been waiting for their next fix, and here we are with M.A.D.E.
Back with longtime label Rap-A-Lot, Scarface treads plenty of familiar territory; murder, drugs, ho's, money, love, pain. Doesn't sound like the most appetizing menu, but when one of hip hop's greatest lyricists and storytellers is the one cooking it up, best believe you'll be satisfied. Boy Meets World is a perfect example. With a title that would send up red flags on most albums, Face weaves a brilliant story of desperation, love and addiction. M.A.D.E. features pretty dark production for the most part, a noticeable departure from the soul and blues found on The Fix. Never sets this sound in motion from the jump as Face uses the vocal sample to tell you a few things; "Never shed tears my heart is like a stone now/never thought I'd live to see 21, look I'm grown now/never say never, they tell me all the time/cause never means its forever, but it's never crossed my mind."
With Z-Ro assisting on the hook, Scarface pens some threats over equally dark production on Burn. Who Do You Believe In stays on the same tip as Face dissects the nature of the street game with the precision he is renowned for. Bigg Dogg Status is another winner and the only track with any traces of the contemporary southern sound. Though flipping the same Lenny Williams sample that both Kanye (Overnight Celebrity) and Havoc (Nothing Like Home) have used, Scarface still rocks lead single Girl You Know. This again, would be a suspect title in the hands of others.
Go is one of the rare light-hearted songs featured; a relatively playful ode to breaking the shackles applied by lady friends. Aside from a syrupy hook, ain't nothing wrong with this. Speaking of brighter songs, there is nothing serious about Git Out My Face. Both in the playful production and the rhymes, which are one some of that ol' ignorant shit. This vibe doesn't last long though, the LP finishes rather morose with The Suicide Note. The haunting hook and moody backdrop help, but it's Scarface who truly brings the misery as only he can do.
M.A.D.E. is not without flaws. Dollar suffers from a ho-hum beat and Face's simple rhyme scheme that is far beneath his capabilities. Toss in a few week choruses and that it may be a bit too short and that is all you can really bitch about. Otherwise, M.A.D.E. is yet another feather in his fedora. Make no mistake about it though, Scarface is more than just a made man, he's a don.