2007 brought back Beanie Sigel, Jay-Z and finally, Scarface, amongst others for the first time in years. It was long enough for Jay-Z to retire, and unretire and to go through his stint as Def Jam CEO. But Scarface has been gone longer and was down with the business aspects of Def Jam years before most notably working at Def Jam South to sign the perennially platinum Ludacris.
Scarface’s last album, The Fix was one of his best solo efforts and featured big name production from Kanye West and The Neptunes, among others. With standout tracks like “My Block” and guest spots from Nas, Jay-Z and Kanye, since then, people have been waiting for a new Scarface album. His newest, MADE comes off as more consistent than his previous album, but never quite reaches the highs that made The Fix a near classic.
The first track, “Never”, brings a hard beat with a short vocal sample in the background. It’s a great intro into the album, it lays out Scarface’s past, present and hopes for the future. This is arguably one of the strongest songs Scarface has ever recorded as he opens up about family, friends and his beliefs.
“Big Dogg Status” is the closest this album comes to a club banger, but since Scarface is no longer on Def Jam, it’s unlikely to be heard on the speakers at your local dance emporium. With an uptempo beat, it’s standard Scarface making sure we know he’s paid his dues and deserves his respect. “Girl You Know” was the lead single, but while the beat evokes Rawkus circa 2001, it doesn’t seem to suit Scarface and his voice. Its not that the song doesn’t work at all, but its hard to listen to without imagining Mos Def or Talib Kweli making it work better.
While relatively light on guest appearances by modern hip-hop terms, “Burn” features a great appearance by Z-Ro who raps the chorus over a beat that evokes a classic mid 90′s sound. After “Burn” the album starts to slow down and lose some of its momentum. It’s not that the tracks are bad per say, but they just don’t feel as full and as charged as the beginning of the album.
Before the album ends though, it ends with arguably it’s most solid track, “Suicide Note”. A song about the suicide of a friend of Scarface its very reminiscent of “My Block”, as it is deeply personal and yet easily relatable. Scarface is great at pulling people in and painting a damn near crystal clear picture that it sometimes seems a shame that his rhymes still fall back into bitches and hustle realm. The content isn’t the problem, but when Scarface really creates a narrative he can blow every other MC out of the water. Hopefully we’ll get more of his stories even if he is as his album says, MADE. – Dane West
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