The process of being made is usually the culmination of a successful criminal career. In Scarface's case, he hasn't been a criminal for the better part of two decades, but he's earned his stripes in another manner. In the hip-hop world being made means having an illustrious and successful career, with classic albums under your belt. Scarface has met all the requirements of being made and easily surpassed them. Not only has the man dropped classics almost every time out the box, he's never had to sell out AND he needs no promotion whatsoever. You mention that Scarface is dropping an album and you have people's attention. You tell people when Scarface is dropping his album and you have their money. Scarface's status as made is nothing new as the man was considered made before he even went solo. The title to his latest album doesn't allude to being made, but instead deals with privileges of being made. When a rapper is made he gets respect. When a rapper is made he gets to say what he wants, and unless you are made too, you merely get to listen - nothing else. Scarface has flexed his made muscle before. He spoke out in support of T.I. during his beef with Lil' Flip. Flip would have recorded a diss track had it been any other rapper, but it was Face and you don't diss a made man. Scarface is flexing his made muscle once again in the year 2007.
The reason why Scarface found it necessary to speak out is made clear with just one listen. The "Intro" features James Prince, owner of Rap-A-Lot, speaking out on the code of the street and upholding the honor of the street rap he's made into an empire. Scarface reiterates the theme on "Never:"
"I would, never violate the codes of the streets
And I would never make a promise, that I know I couldn't keep
And I would, never testify, cop out for a plea
Or surrender information on my boys to the police
And you could, never catch me on the block without a strap
And I would, never pull it out unless I'm bouts to black
And I could, never forget my homies dyin for they scratch
Forever pourin out liquor for 'em, God send me back
and I'll, 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 it's forever, but it's never crossed my mind
And I'll, never go broke, I promise I'ma shine
Never come short on my issue, I'm on it every time
And I'll, never be past it, you better gimme mine
It's my money, and I want it, every motherfuckin dime"
Long time Face producer N.O. Joe teams up with southern newcomer Drumma Boy to cook up a tasty bowl of thick bass, sparse synths, and heavy drums. To those who wonder whether these words are aimed towards anybody in particular - Scarface and J. Prince had one time associate Lil' Troy in mind when making this album. The producer/rapper best known for his hit "Wanna Be a Baller" took it upon himself to call Scarface out on record and DVD. I can't speak as to what Troy had to say on his DVD, but it was enough to warrant a response from Face. The celebration of Scarface's reputation continues on "Bigg Dogg Status" where N.O. Joe updates his sound with some bouncing synths while Wacko of UTP lends his vocals for the hook. The mood lightens up slightly as Face teams up with Trey Songz and producer Nottz for "Girl You Know." Expanding on the Lenny Williams sample Kanye used for "Overnight Celebrity" Face addresses the hardships of love. The diversion is over quick as Z-Ro teams up with Scarface for "Burn" where Scarface explores killer's remorse (or lack thereof). "Go" finds Face exploring the theme of relationships and meeting success. The song, as do most on the album, showcases Scarface's unparalleled storytelling skills. "Dollar" follows and features Tone Capone on the track. The "I Got Five On It" producer provides a dark, menacing beat while Scarface explores the dangerous fascination with money that engulfs us all at some point. "Boy Meets Girl" is another excellent track showcasing Face's storytelling skills:
"This kid was raised a hustler, all he's ever known was trouble
His momma never kept a job, his daddy died in the struggle
He had a sister cute as fuck that liked this older cat
That had control over the hood but never sold a pack
His family needing money, asking him if he can front it
He wants to learn the game because being broke ain't feeding nothing
They met and talked and one more thing before they finished
You don't know, I don't know you that's how we'll start and end it
From there he's off and running, taught him how to save his money
Never let one meet the other, dope mean paper, bleed and run it
And learn the basic rules, don't sell this to kids and fools
And don't you try it either, honor that and all is cool
Now he's a baller dude, stripping hoes and call her dude
Addicted to the boy, shooting up and starting too"
The song is masked as a love story but addresses the pitfalls of dealing and using. That alone would separate Face from the pack, but Scarface's narratives are so detailed and compelling they rival those told through movies and books. Scarface keeps up the steady stream of quality tracks with "Who Do You Believe In" - an introspective track that is at the same time a challenge for you to question your religion considering the pitfalls and perils that surround you. "Git Out My Face" comes next and is an acquired taste - Enigma drops a classical string combination while the hook is sung in an almost opera style. Face's lyrics are up to par as usual, but the track may not appeal to everyone. Thankfully, the next track features vintage Face as he delivers a heart wrenching tale of depression and life lost on "The Suicide Note."
"Made" is not Scarface's best album, that honor would go to "The Fix" or any of his earlier solos depending on where you stand. Yet, saying this isn't Face's best is no insult. Scarface on his worst day or even in unofficial form (see "My Balls and My Word") is still better than most other rappers on their best day and in the end that is the true reason Scarface decided to speak out. In a made man's mind one unfaithful soldier (see Lil' Troy) doesn't warrant any expended energy, but an army of wayward soldiers does require action. In this case the game is full of wayward soldiers which threaten to damage the good name that is rap with their repetitive topics, uninspired music, and fictitious tales. Scarface has spoken. Chances are things won't change, but to be honest we secretly yearn for that result in the hopes the made man will be inspired to speak again.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10
Originally posted: December 11, 2007