Five Best Songs From Scarface’s ‘The Diary’ Album
Few artists in hip-hop's storied history have moved listeners like one Brad Jordan, more commonly known as Scarface.
The Texas native and franchise artist of J. Prince's Rap-A-Lot Records burst onto the scene in the late '80s as a member of the Geto Boys, first appearing on the groups 'Grip It! On That Other Level' before embarking on what would become a fruitful solo career. Debuting with the well-received 'Mr. Scarface Is Back' in 1991, he has gone on to build what is considered by rap pundits as one of the most bulletproof catalogs the game has seen thus far.
Arguably the first mouth of the south in hip-hop, Scarface is regarded as an elder statesman by rap's elite and credited as an influential artist whose DNA can be traced to many an MC. Out of all of his accomplishments in milestones, one pivotal moment in his career stands above the rest: the release of his third solo album, 'The Diary,' on Oct. 18, 1994. The album, featuring production by Scarface himself, Rap-A-Lot boardsmen Mike Dean and N.O. Joe, plays smoothly from front-to-back and is as cohesive as they come. Booming lyrical verbiage spit by Face on top of quality beats make for a great listen, with the album now considered an undisputed classic and his first to achieve platinum status by the RIAA.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of this landmark release, we've decided to do the impossible and select the five tracks from this opus that stand above the rest. Check out 5 Best Songs From Scarface's 'The Diary' Album.
The mood on 'The Diary' lightens up a bit with the playalistic 'One.' Deciding to put down his gun for a quick sec, Face opts to co-mingle with a few around-the-way filets instead with pimpish advances like "Opened up my door and asked the bitch, 'what's up?' / Looking at me crazy, I'm like 'bitch, 'what's up?' / She asked about my woman, I said my woman at home / I asked about her n----, she said her n---- was gone." Hitting one of the homies up on the jack to inform him of the impromptu rendezvous and turning it into a family affair, Face sticks to the ancient guy-code of "ain't no fun if the homies can't have none" on this number while providing a syrupy sounding roll call for the slores in the process.
'The Diary' begins with the N.O. Joe-produced opener 'The White Sheet.' Scarface wastes no time in making his presence felt with brazen lines line "Ra-tat-tat-tat til yo' ass hit the motherf---ing flo' / Now, what is you f---ing wit' a n---- fo' / Apparently, you haven't heard of me / It's gonna take more motherf---ers than in a compound to murder me." Dancing tambourines and eerie synths anchor the beat and the H-Town O.G. puts a white sheet over the track, leaving no witnesses to spare.
Face compares his killing prowess to that of infamous gunman Jesse James on this aptly-titled selection. Co-produced by N.O. Joe, Mike Dean and Scarface himself, the song sees the southern legend on a squeeze-first-ask-questions-later kind of warpath without an ounce of remorse. Viciously spitting "There'll be no witnesses to this homicide / No reenactment on the late news to be re-dramatized / All you got is a n---- with a dot / In the middle of his motherf---ing hear, he's been shot," Scarface rides the kicks and snares with aggression and lets listeners (and rivals alike) know he means business.
Scarface fires shots back at the political leaders and activists blaming hip-hip for the ills of society on 'Hand Of The Dead Body.' Retorting that "Gangsta Nip, Spice-1, and Tupac never gave a gun to me" in response to pundits insinuating that the messages portrayed in rap contribute to gun violence, Face lays it thick on antagonists of the culture bluntly in his signature straight-forward manner. Ice Cube, an outspoken lyricist in his own right, also makes a riveting appearance on the record, while Devin The Dude plays shortstop on the hook, with impressive results. Delivering a heavy-handed message without preaching to the choir, 'Hand Of The Body' stands as 'The Diary's crown jewel and is nothing short of superb.
A tale of death and karma is detailed, featuring a parolee that meets his demise on 'I Seen A Man Cry.' Scarface plays the lyrical grim reaper, serving as the orator to an unsuspecting victim's last moments of life. The production squad of N.O. Joe, Mike Dean and Face create a sonic groove for the ages, powered by spooky organ stabs and keys lifted from Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger and The Trinity's 'Light My Fire.' Scarface crafts a masterpiece here. Peaking at No. 2 on Billboard's Hip/Hop chart and accompanied by one of the more memorable rap vids from that era, 'I Seen A Man Cry' stands as a significant track in Scarface's catalog and one of his more lasting musical contributions.