Scarface: Guess Who's Back?
Brad Jordan p.k.a. Scarface has earned his legendary status. After 18 years, four platinum and three gold albums, the souths first solo superstar has influenced the microphone stylings of everyone from Tupac to Beanie Sigel. Alongside Slick Rick, Face is one of the cultures greatest narrative poets.
Unfortunately, being a living legend does have its drawbacks. Following the five-mic classic coronation his last release, The Fix, received from The Source magazine expectations are high for his first solo album in over five years, Made. Adding to the heightened spectacle surrounding his latest offering is a non-stop barrage of stones being thrown at the throne by everyone from his first label boss Lil Troy (courtesy of a defamation lawsuit) to rumormongers incessantly chatting about an alleged rift between Face and his longtime employer, Rap-A-Lot Records founder J. Prince.
HipHopDX recently caught up with the original King of the South to discuss these developments in his legendary career over the past few years, his forthcoming eighth studio album [18th overall albums, as one-third of H-Towns seminal rap group, the Geto Boys], and why his new status as a free agent means Jigga needs to holla at him, which may mean Made will be his final release via the label he helped build.
HipHopDX: The album cover photo for Made shows you staring into a mirror with a weary look on your face like you dont even wanna do this stuff anymore. Is that what the cover represents or am I reading too much into it?
Scarface: Nah, I dont think you see that [in the] cover. That cover [shot] is me taking a long look at myself saying, God damn, finally! Thats more of a finally look.
DX: So you been waiting to get back in the game?
S: I been waiting to do what I wanna do [and] say what I wanna say.
DX: Last year in an interview, you were quoted as saying, The Fix was my last album. Ill never record again. Ill fuck with my group. Another solo album? No. So what made you change your mind?
S: Uhbusiness. The business side will make a muthafucka quit, and the business side will make a muthafucka do it again.
DX: So youre saying they backed the Brinks truck up?
S: Well, almost.
DX: In that same piece you suggested you wanted to retire because of bad business on the part of Rap-A-Lot. Has that business been addressed?
S: I mean, its to be addressed. Everythings to be worked out, but at the same time you dont stop [recording]. You have a lot of artists that stopped because they were having disputes with the record labels, and thats what I dont wanna do.
DX: But theres still issues that you and J. Prince gotta sit down and iron out?
S: Yeah, exactly.
DX: In the August 2002 issue of XXL J. Prince was quoted as saying with regards to you and him, Were gonna be tied to one another for life. Do you agree?
S: Yeah, its forever.
DX: Youre essentially to Rap-A-Lot what L.L. Cool J is to Def Jam. So why then did J. Prince put together three albums [My Balls And My Word, My Homies 2 and 2 Face] over the past few years without the apparent consent and participation of his flagship artist?
S: Legally right, morally wrong. Thats a question that I cant answer.
DX: Thats an issue that still needs to be addressed?
S: Thats an issue thats being addressed, yeah.
DX: Lets turn the conversation to the new album, Made. On the first street single, Never, a line you said caught my ear: Ill never turn my back on Jesus. But I read that you had converted to Islam?
S: Right, and thats the first thing people would expect for me to do [to speak about Islam]. The most immaculate human being known to man, I never could turn my back on him. What I dont believe [about Christianity] isyou know what I dont believe. But I still believe that he is the most immaculate human being known to man.
DX: Something else you spit on another song from Made also caught my attention. On Big Dogg Status you said, A C.I., puttin out these DVDs/Now my shit done hit the streets, he gots to squash the beef/Got the Feds on his team, so they watchin me/A mouse trap for a rat, pussy, watch and see. You might wanna be careful, [Lil Troy] might sue you again.
S: Yeah, wellyou know what, Im not gonna even address none of that shit. Thats a girl, and girls do what girls do. I dont even play into that hoe shit.
DX: While were speaking on Made, I was just curious to know why you didnt produce any of the albums tracks?
S: I wanted to focus more on being a writer this time around. I wanted to focus on my writing skills.
DX: A lot of folks dont know that you been producing for years. You just produced three joints on UGKs latest album. You've been quoted as saying that you produced your whole first solo album, I Seen A Man Die and Mind Playing Tricks On Me. Why didnt you get the production credit for those classic creations?
S: Aint nobody denying it right?
DX: Not that Im aware of, no.
S: Yeah, cause its the muthafuckin truth. Aint nobody denying the shit. Now let me say I did [Kanye Wests] Good Life, and theres gonna be some questions about that. And how long ago was this? And then for me to say this 10-15 years later and nobody come and claim it, thats because its true. Like, yeah I produced that shit. [Longtime Rap-A-Lot mixer and engineer] Mike Dean mighta ran the mixing board. He mighta played what I told him to play, but thats all my shit.
DX: That reminds me, who was Crazy C?
S: Thats Clay Evens. Thats my boy. He did a lot of [onetime Rap-A-Lot artist] Big Mellos stuff in the early days.
DX: But he wasnt the actual producer on your first solo album, Mr. Scarface Is Back?
S: No. He did Born Killer and Im Dead, everything else, I did.
DX: And besides producing I know you play guitar. I think Boy Meets Girl was the only song on Made you played on?
S: Nah, I played on a couple more. The Never song, thats replayed. I played the bassline and the guitar piece to that shit.
DX: I never knew, did you like take lessons or did you just pick up all this shit on your own?
S: It was just family. My family played, so I picked it up.
DX: Is the overall sound of the album more soulful like the first official single from Made, Girl You Know?
S: Oh yeah. Thats soul, that [songs] not electronic at all.
DX: Conceptually is the album a mixed bag of different themes, or is it mostly the darker songs that deal with inner turmoil that youre known for?
S: Man, this album is gonna blow you away dude. It blows me away listening to it. Theres only one song on there that I think they shouldve let me do what I wanted to do onfucked me upbut its all good.
DX: Made is your current Rap-A-Lot release, but I know the people wanna know if theres gonna be another Geto Boys album forthcoming? I know Bushwick Bill is releasing a Christian rap album, so is a re-reunion for GB even possible?
S: Im gonna be hung-up. Im done. There might be some new Geto Boys though.
DX: But you dont plan on being a part of any more Geto Boys projects?
DX: While were on the topic of reunions, I gotta ask if you and Ludacris will ever work together again?
S: Shit, we aint never stopped. Thats my dog. He grown now. He a bull now. He got his own fuckin herd now.
DX: The last time you spoke with HipHopDX [click here to read] you were quoted as saying, Ive been in the studio twice with Luda. Was his self-sufficiency as an artist the reason why you guys didnt work together much?
S: Yeah, I didnt even need to. He was already done. He already knew who he was. He already knew what he wanted to be.
DX: In that same interview you were also quoted as saying, With the Def Jam situation, I make money with them, but theyre some slave masters too! Kevin Liles is a bitch! Hes a big fat pussy! So Im gonna go ahead and assume Kevin is the reason you left your position as President of Def Jam South?
S: Nah, and I dont want it misunderstood, what I got against him is something very personal. It aint got nothing to do with that shit. Its just like When I got ready to leave Def Jam, I made sure Haystak was free didnt I? I made sure that every artist that I brought over there got free from their contract before I left. I made sure that everybody that I was involved with was straight and out of they shit. Well, thats the only problem I got with Kevin, other than that I addressed it. I addressed him personally on that issue like the man that I am. I told him how I felt about it. This aint no Internet war shit, whatever I gotta say to a muthafucka I can say it to his face.
DX: But that wasnt the reason you bounced, it wasnt cause of him?
S: Nah, that was the reason why I was stuck there. Shit, he left me holding the baggie. But L.A. Reid a real dude, man. I told L.A. Reid I wasnt planning to be there and he said, Shit, you dont have to. And I respect him for that. But when I told Kevin like, Yo man, everybody else gone; I need to get loose. Man, I need to be free, he was like, nah man, fuck you. You gotta stay here. At least thats what it seemed like [he was saying] to me.
DX: Was he the one that was keeping you from bringing artists to the label? I know the Lil Flip deal fell through, and it just seemed like everything you was bringing to them after Ludacris was going nowhere.
S: They didnt want Flip. They didnt want Slim Thug. They didnt want Paul Wall and Chamillionaire. They didnt want T.I., David Banner, Stat Quo, and the list goes on. But I aint mad at nobody.
DX: So these reports that surfaced over the summer that you were going back to Def Jam to release another solo album entitled Undisputed, those were just fiction?
S: Damn, where you hear that from?
DX: Yeah, it was all over a bunch of Internet sites.
S: I dont know man Shit, Im exercising my free agency, so maybe Jigga got a plan, who knows?
DX: So is Made gonna be your last release on Rap-A-Lot?
S: I dont know man, well see. I aint in no big rush to do nothing. Were just getting started.
DX: I understand you are gonna be appearing on a couple forthcoming Def Jam releases, Freeway and Beanie Sigels new albums, and I also understand that you and Beans might be going out on a tour with The Roots as a backing band?
S: Are we really? Shit, I would. Id love to. Beans is my dog, and I love The Roots.
DX: And I guess my final question is just what else you got on deck for 08 besides Made?
S: Im just working, manThe Product.
DX: You guys are coming back out?
S: We doing our own thang, baby.