Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scarface "Emeritus"

While Texas saw quite a bit of success in recent years, it hasn’t maintained the level of notoriety it looked to achieve and for the most part the “stars” of that year haven’t kept up. Regardless of what it is the younger cats do on a national scale for the lone star state, one man has consistently delivered the country the truest in the form of rap music straight out of the fifth ward.

While never gaining the widespread acceptance, Scarface has consistently put out records filled with his own style of violent imagery coupled with a sense of humanity that gives his stories a moral center “gangsta” rap is often, rightly so, criticized for dismissing. When Face talks about these things that go on in communities across the country it isn’t to promote violence, but to offer an honest look at what’s going through the minds in those involved and how something better can come out of even the worst of situations.

With Lil Wayne and countless other rappers claiming to be the greatest to ever rock a mic, Scarface releases his 9th, and supposedly final, album, Emeritus – and with that alone he proves just how far ahead of all these kids he is.

“Emeritus: retired or honorably discharged from active professional duty, but retaining the title of one's office or position: dean emeritus of the graduate school; editor in chief emeritus.”
He is one of the greatest to do it, but does this parting effort close out a historic discography justly? You better not bet against the man.

Even with the somewhat pointless (after the first listen) “Intro” where J. Prince airs out his legal issues with various Houston entities Emeritus carries an overall sound of epic proportions. The haunting Mike Dean composition provides just what you need to get ready for what’s to come.

“High Powered” the lead off track comes courtesy of longtime Face collaborator N.O. Joe and his up-beat synth heavy banger works perfectly for the scathing lines shot at those around Houston who want to take Rap-A-Lot down. Just how long have they been running shit? And y’all think you can bring ‘em to an end. Scarface knows the truth.

Cool & Dre new that they couldn’t hit Scarface with none of those weak tracks they have been known to drop recently (Nas, Busta) and come correct with the lead single “Don’t Forget About Me.” Pulling a great sample for the loop, Wayne and Bun join Face for a braggadocios yet honest appraisal of legacies. Rightly so Wayne kicks this off allowing the legends to hold down the rest of the track – giving us a glimpse of what might be to come should Scarface return to rap.

"Don't Forget About Me"
Nottz laces a couple joints here with “Can’t Get Right” and “Still Here.” On the former Bilal delivers the hook in his high pitched voice while piano’s tinkle in the background over 808s and organs (No Kanye). The later sees Scarface in storytelling mode reflecting on his past and how to reconcile where he’s from and where he is.

The hustler life seems to weigh heavy on his soul here as most of the tracks find him looking back on his past asking questions of himself and, I would guess, of those kids out in the streets today. He speaks on the death of friends with sincerity yet at the same time can spit lines about his own animosity and need to go the way of the gun. Scarface may have lived a successful life thanks to his wordplay ability, but how many of the kids on the corner will you ever hear of?

Not all is sad though, Jake One (Seattle, What up!) delivers one of the best beats here (and one of his top of the year) for “High Notes.” Changing the vibe for a second, Scarface takes this time to break down how he pleases the ladies – “makin’ ‘em hit the high notes!”

“The streets always been my daddy and mommy is the county jail.”
“Solider Story” – where the above line can be found on the hook, is right in line with classic Face songs such as “Smile” and “Never Seen A Man Cry.” Over a somber but hopeful beat The Product and Z-Ro explain the contradictions and downfalls of a hustler’s life, paying tribute to lost friends and their home. Yet the song still feels like its positive, while this is the life - they find the good and use it as hope for brighter days to come.

If you have ever enjoyed Scarface you have no reason not to cop this album immediately. It’s not any different than what you have heard before (well the beats might have evolved just a little) from Brad Jordan, just a continued move forward from a man who has never lost touch with that which made him or ever let his accomplishments define him. Scarface knows where he comes from and that makes him the best.

No comments: