The Fix, Scarface

The Fix, Scarface

Def Jam, 2002

Brad Jordan, a.k.a Scarface, is arguably one of the greatest rap legends and most respected among his peers, especially for his lyrical abilities. And he undeniably deserves this title. Yet, before becoming the rap legend he is with the release of this album, Scarface went through many steps in his youth, and that’s probably what contributed to his legend with his raw lyrics and his street wise.

We have to know that Scarface left the high school very early and started to sell drugs in the street. On the side, he DJ’d under the name DJ Akshen and was spotted by the Houston underground label Rap-A-Lot, where he joined the Geto Boys along with Willie D as a replacement for other members due to the lack of success of the original group. At this point, the Geto Boys turned a corner and became one of the pioneers of Houston rap, before gaining legendary status with their album We Can’t Be Stopped.

In the 90s, his talent allowed him to release solo albums alongside his albums with Geto Boys, all with his early label Rap-A-Lot Records, a typical southern label founded by James Prince. The 2000’s were a turning point in his career. The title of his last album The Last of a Dying Breed released in 2000 fueled rumors of the legend’s retirement. His appointment as head of Def Jam South in 2001 will amplify public speculation. However, Scarface has no intention of putting down the microphone.

Now at Def Jam, he’s leaving his longtime label and returning with a more typical 2000s New York album. In fact, even though his southern influences can be felt on each of his albums, Scarface has always had a hybrid style with a variety of influences, which can be felt in his guests who come from all over the United States.

One of the major changes on this album is the absence of N.O. Joe on production, a producer who has been with Scarface since the early 90’s and has appeared on every one of his previous albums, including the Geto Boys albums. As a producer from New Orleans, the southern feel of Scarface’s albums came in part from him. The producer selection will make The Fix an album rooted in the 2000s with similar sounds to Blueprint, especially in Kanye West’s productions. With the exception of Mike Dean who is a long time Scarface collaborator, the other producers are new to the Houston rapper.

The intro made by Mike Dean, The Fix, with a beautiful guitar chord, it prepares us to take a good punchy fix. Kanye West delivers three productions, we feel some similarities with Blueprint, very noticeable on Guess Who’s Back with a mix of bass and piano chords typical of the Soul sampling of the early days of Kanye. Nottz gives us an exceptional bass riff on Keep Me Down for a sound with light West Coast sounds. Tony Pizarro brings a new West Coast touch on I Ain’t That One, with the incredible WC, it must be said that the two go well together with their similar flow. The Neptunes, unavoidable at this time, come to bring the… Neptunes touch with their so typical style slightly electronic on Someday with a chorus of Faith Evans. Finally, the flavors are very rich and varied but of a great homogeneity in the quality.

My Block and its little sampled piano tune of Be Real Black For Me is just magnificent. The impact of this title will be such as it will be the anthem of the Ghettos of New York, rather amusing when we know that Scarface comes from Houston.

On my block – it ain’t no different than the next block
Ya get drunk and pass out, and they back ya to the house
And when you wake up on the couch you goin right back at it
On my block when you DAT fucked up they LAUGH at it

Scarface, as the king of Houston, poses royally at the microphone: composed, calm and precise. Dictated in his deep voice, Mr. Scarface’s rhymes combine street sense and wisdom with a storytelling ability that only he can provide. Kelly Price brings a little touch of gospel singing that is very welcome on the calmer productions of T-Mix. Heaven transports in a small soft melody accompanied by the magnificent voice of Kelly Price, once again. Scarface manages to reunite Jay-Z and Nas on the same album while both are in a beef for the New York crown.

After opening the album with his intro, Mike Dean comes to close with Fixed, which takes the production of the intro to make this album an endless loop. The metaphor of a fix. But after having taken this fix proposed by Scarface, we are fixed: this album is a bomb. A classic.

By Grégoire Zasa

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