Chances are, Scarface is your favorite rapper's favorite rapper.
DMX and Face collaborators Nas and Jay-Z have all heralded him as one of the realest and best to grab the mic. Ludacris loves him so much, he affectionately calls him "uncle." Yet after over 10 years, Scarface is still surprised that so many people give him props.
"Looking back on where I come from and what I go through, that's some big sh-- for me, for artists to feel my sh-- because I feel their [music] too," Face said earlier this month from his hometown of Houston. "I appreciate that, man. I appreciate people looking at me like that. I could have easily been lost in the wash like a whole lot of other good rappers."
Upon the first couple of looks at the cinematic, semi-autobiographical video for Face's current single, "My Block," you may think that the legendary storyteller is indeed lost. He actually doesn't appear in the Mark Klasfield-directed clip until the video is almost over. Face said it was all a part of the bigger picture.
"I told Mark Klasfield I wanted to be different. I didn't want to do the same [type of] rap video; drinking and dancing and shooting dice and smoking weed, riding hard with cars," Face recalled. "I just wanted to do something different. I didn't want to shoot a rap video. I think every video I shoot is going to be an alternative, like the 'Smile' video. I gotta keep it like that."
Face's next video will be for his duet with Faith Evans, "Someday." The track basically doubles as an open letter to God, as he affirms devotion to the Lord and asks for forgiveness.
The Houston artist thinks it "sucks" that some artists are unwilling to address religion in their music. "If they don't, they should. I think that that message should be spread across the country," he explained. "It's way bigger than us, it's way bigger than what we are."
Later on the album, Face again explores spirituality on "Heaven," in which he starts off reflecting on his life.
"That's a sick ticket right there," Face gushed. "It's three different verses to that. On the second verse I talk about God, the last one I touch the political side. At the end of the day, we depending on the reverend to get us in [Heaven], but in reality, he's just another man trying to get there."
Besides his first love as an MC, Face is also enjoying success with Def Jam South. He's a perfect two for two with his first artist, Ludacris, who dropped back-to-back multiplatinum smashes. On September 10, the label goes for the hat trick with the release of Golden Grain, an album featuring collaborations between Cris and his clique, Disturbing The Peace.
"Ludacris and DTP, them dudes just self-maintained," Face said with humility. "I've been in the studio twice with Cris and he's got three albums worth of sh--. I think [Golden Grain] is a very uniquely put-together compilation record. It's got a lot of different players. I think Shawna and Cris and [guest] Twista have a smash record on there."
Face insisted that the future of Def Jam South includes more than projects featuring himself and Ludacris. "I guess I always been a artist/executive because I keep my eye open for the new sh--," he rationalized. "That's the only thing that interests me in the game, putting out something new. In my case, I'm kind of set in my ways, I love to be me. But I love hearing new [kinds of music] and helping artists put they sh-- out. It's a lot to learn. The people that have it down pat realize they don't have it down pat.
"The ink is dried up on a couple of artists I'm looking at," he added. "This guy from West Palm Beach, Florida, Bumpy Johnson — if it's anybody that's as funny as Cris and Devin the Dude, it's him. He's got wordplay and he's country and he's a spitter."
Face still believes he can spit with the best of them. That what pushes him to keep the number on his rap jersey.
"I can't even use [Michael] Jordan as an example but I will," Face said. "Jordan will come in and show them young bucks that he can still score 30 a game. Outside of the situation being right, I can still do it. Music, that's my passion. That's what I love."
The love is still there for his old team, but don't expect any reunion of Face and the Geto Boys.
'Not a chance," Face clarified. "If you see that happening, just know they gave me a bunch of money.
"Every now and then I speak to Willie Dee," he continued. "I love Willie and [Bushwick] Bill, but it's just not economically feasible for me to do that. Everybody is gonna want money. You got four egos involved: mine, Willie's, Bushwick's and Rap-A-Lot CEO J Prince's. Me and J are real tight, but it's business too. In order for me to [do another Geto Boys album] I'm gonna need something — all up front."