Scarface: The Grim Reaper of Hip Hop
Life is amazing but the “Reality” of Life can be scary. Life is a maze consisting of birth, growth, trials, tribulations, love, family, friends, goals, hate, fear, triumph, defeat, satisfaction and finally, a quiet trip back to the essence. In the middle of it all, we learn how to live. We learn through a day by day education called existence. In music, only a few artists take me on a journey that’s almost spiritual. Only a few artists force me to sit back and truly dissect every aspect of being alive. I’m honest when I say that most musicians I love put me in a zone, but only a chosen few literally ignite deeper consciousness. So, in comes Brad Terrence Jordan, who is known by the Hip Hop World as Scarface. I remember the first time hearing Scarface on the track “My Minds Playing Tricks On Me” as a sophomore in High School. The song became an instant sensation by a group called Geto Boys. This vivid track was the lead single off the groups second LP, We Can’t Be Stopped. The year was 1991 and Hip Hop would never be the same.
Listening to the dark, intelligent and enlightening lyrics of Scarface encouraged me to step back and do the knowledge on their debut album, the 1989 underground hit Grip It! The Other Level. This album was the blueprint for Rap-A-Lot Records and founder James Prince (J. Prince). Southern Hip Hop would look totally different if J. Prince didn’t see success with the Geto Boys. Before Outkast, UGK, 8 Ball & MJG, and a host of others, there was the Geto Boys. The Geto Boys assisted NWA in regard to Gangster Rap, affectionately called Reality Rap by West Coast Legend Ice T. The interesting thing about the groups lead MC (Scarface) was the vulnerability he showed in the middle of aggressive lyrics. Scarface didn’t glorify the streets or violence. Scarface talked to you about what happens when you live a certain lifestyle. Scarface talked to you about the reality of death, as the result of the way you lived. A lot of MC’s can’t take you to a certain place because they haven’t truly experienced what they rap about. Scarface life has always been complex, complicated and unlike most. This is why his fans connect with his reality.
Scarface has a story that resonates with what I’ve done for a living since 1998. During his childhood, Brad Jordan aka Scarface was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Scarface has battled depression since his youth as well, even attempting suicide on several occasions. You can hear the pain in his music. No rapper has ever been so vivid in describing life and death. On the classic “Never Seen A Man Cry”, Scarface made me look at Hip Hop through a more passionate perspective. Growing up, we didn’t think it was cool for Men to cry. You know the old saying, “Men cry in the dark” but Scarface was talking about how life choices can end your time on earth. He talked about the process of a man being scared to die, facing the reality of death and finally dying with tears in his eyes. I don’t’ care how tough you think you are, the thought on no longer breathing is the most difficult thing to fathom. Hip Hop had a new storyteller that was unlike the funny stories of Slick Rick and Biz Markie, Mafia Stories of Kool G. Rap or Hood Stories by Ice Cube. Scarface was the “Grim Reaper” of Rap Music.
As I sit hear listening to the track “In My Time” off Last Of A Dying Breed, the vision of my Grandparents funerals is revisited. I have honestly never heard a rap song like this. You see, Brad Jordan found his niche in the game a long time ago. Who would have known a dude name DJ Akshen (Action) would stop spinning records and become one of the most prolific MC’s in the history of Rap Music? Who would have known an MC would take Hip Hop on an emotional journey that shifted the culture? How many MC’s will provide you with the vulnerability below?
In my time, I've seen life born, and I've been blessed Enough to see life losses, it's just the price life cost And shortly, explain my pain, I know I'm prone to do it wrong So when I'm gone, life goes on Tell my mother, when she on the front row, hold her head up Shed no tears, and dread those years Smile, and even though my whole life's been a po'ball You did yours, and it's not your fault Tell my grandmother those words too She knows I'm headed to a better place That'll put a smile on my wife's face God's graced the evil spirit that surrounded me And pass me, and anytime it could ‘a had me But when it all went wrong, sung the same ol' song Now it's peace after the storm blew on And appetite, for the better life, security for yours and mines What the evil lies, and not so kind In my time, it's been times, I would've stopped and called the quits But I might as well sit until it's over wit Earth to earth, and ashes to ashes, dust to dust It's the lord I trust You tell me the dirt is where I come from, so I guess the dirt's where I'll return No sorrow, it was just my turn And in that, last trumpet sounds, put me down in the ground But I’ll probably be at home by now And it's help will change(these helps will be changed) Blinking of a eye, but I don't think I'll get to see that In my time, till I'm born again
3rd Verse “In My Time” by Scarface
The influence Face has had on Hip Hop is more impactful than casual fans actually realize. Scarface has 12 solo albums, 6 Gheto Boys albums and 2 collaborative albums from 1989 to 2017. I read somewhere that an album will also be released in 2018 as well. As a result of almost 30 years in the Rap Game, some of your favorite rappers started to share their lives from deeper lenses because of Scarface. You can hear the influence in DMX, Eminem, Tupac, Beanie Sigel, Joe Budden and NAS. Scarface is a lot of MC’s favorite Rapper. I was glad to see FACE receive The Source Magazine’s 2001 Lyricist of the Year Award, BET’s Icon Award in 2015 and various publications naming him one of the Top 10 MC’s of all time. Scarface has contributed to The South and is the King of The South in my opinion; sorry T.I. Scarface was the President of Def Jam South and instrumental in signing Ludacris and other acts. Scarface is well respected and is one of the few MC’s who has pretty much never been disrespected on record. I mean, other artist would attack you for attempting to attack FACE. Scarface is one of the few MC’s that has ultimate respect from the greatest MC’s from every era of Hip Hop and every Region. The East Coast love Face just as much as The West Coast. We already know he is revered in The South, which goes without saying.
At the end of the day, music is a reflection of life. True artist find a way to invite you into their world, but also push you to navigate passed the rhythm. I listen to Marvin Gaye, SADE, Rakim, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash and a few others because their lyrics are poetry to me. There are several Tupac songs where I know he was guided by the spirit of Scarface lyrics. Pac often talked about life and death but Face had mastered this style of rap several years prior. As I sit here listening to “Someday” featuring Faith Evans, the lyrics sit deep. The hook alone takes me to my childhood at Church listening to the Choir before my Father preached his sermons. Scarface is the “Grim Reaper” of Hip Hop but also the first “Pastor” of this genre as well.
I leave you with the hook to “Someday” featuring Faith
I know god is watching from above Sometimes I wonder what I'd do without his love And although life is full of adversities I know he's with me, he's with me I know someday, someday, someday... Someday, someday, someday... Someday, someday, someday He'll come to get me
God Bless you Mr. Brad Jordan
Peace – Tony Hanes, Da Dome