Scarface Breaks Down Entire Geto Boys & Solo Albums

Even when it comes to Full Clip, VIBE has the sense enough to know not to bury the lead. So here it is: Scarface has left Rap-A-Lot Records. In an era of frequent artists drops and changing imprints, the news is indeed surprising given that the man born Brad Jordan has been associated with the […]

Even when it comes to Full Clip, VIBE has the sense enough to know not to bury the lead. So here it is: Scarface has left Rap-A-Lot Records. In an era of frequent artists drops and changing imprints, the news is indeed surprising given that the man born Brad Jordan has been associated with the James Prince-owned landmark Houston label since 1988. Back then, Scarface made his debut as a member of a revamped Geto Boys with country hard talker Willie D. and menacing dwarf Bushwick Bill. Face, whose at times violent, dark, vivid, complex and emotional lyrics dissected street life, would eventually find immense solo acclaim, becoming the south’s most heralded MC. But when the rapper, multi-instrumentalist and producer talks about going independent on a new album he’s currently finishing up tentatively entitled The Habit, he speaks with both regret and optimism for the future.

“I think with anything that you do in life it has to run its course,” Face tells VIBE of his split from his longtime label home and J. Prince. “And I think that my business relationship with Rap-A-Lot has ran its course. I’m not just a rapper anymore. You can’t make me an artist, anymore. It’s time for me to have my own s###. There’s a lot of money in successful independent records. I was totally unaware of that throughout my career by the label. If you put a few million records out and you are making eight bucks a pop, everything is supposed to be everything. I’m supposed to be a part of that money, right? I think with the amount of money independent artists make I wish I would have made the move a little sooner.”

“I feel good about my opportunities,” Face continues. “I have a son that’s 19-years-old who is a much better rapper than I was at that age! I’m trying to make his career right. I’m going to give him a couple of songs on my new album, which I’m aiming for an October release. He doesn’t have a MC name yet. I’m just going to call him Chris Jordan…because he’s a bad m##########, man.”

Whatever the future of Scarface, he can rest assured that he has had one of the most consistent and enviable careers in hip-hop. The always-candid icon takes a look back at his remarkable run. —Keith Murphy

Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)—Geto Boys

I had no f###### idea this record was going to be [so controversial]. I was so excited to finally get my face on somebody’s cassette. The music just drove me. Willie D, Bill and myself literally didn’t know each other. We just sat around for a little while and recorded a few songs and after that James told us, ‘Ya’ll aint getting it done fast enough.’ They took us out to the middle of nowhere and left us together. We were in a house and it was the nicest f###### house I had ever been in my life. But back then we didn’t want to see no beautiful houses in the middle of nowhere. We wanted to be around that hip-hop movement. You also have to take into consideration that we were kids. I was about 17 back then. And we were not recording in a professional studio.

We didn’t get into a professional studio until Rick Rubin came along. But Rick did not want me in the Geto Boys. He didn’t like my rhyme style. Rick wanted to exploit the fact that we were from Texas and I didn’t rap like I was from Texas. I never asked what changed Rick Rubin’s tune. However, I know early on he wasn’t f###### with me. I guess he felt like since we started together, we should finish together, so Scarface stays.

We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)Geto Boys

I think my manic depressive state and suicidal tendencies played a huge role on who I was back then. “Mind Playing Tricks On Me” was one of the numerous songs I wrote and produced myself. There were three verses: my first two verses—the verse that Bill rapped was my own third verse. It was a record I originally recorded for my solo album, but nobody wanted that song. I swear…nobody. Willie D. didn’t think the record would work, but he wrote a verse to it anyway after J had done his research on this song. He found some people who were really feeling it. He wanted everybody to rap on it. It became a Geto Boys record.

If you look at my face on the We Can’t Be Stopped album cover you can tell I didn’t want to be apart of that photo shoot. Bill was still in the hospital. He was highly sedated, man. (Just days before the We Can’t Be Stopped photo shoot, a drunken and depressed Bushwick Bill shot himself in the eye after his girlfriend refused to shoot him during an altercation.) We took that picture at the actual hospital where Bill was at. And Chief, who was our manager at the time, said, ‘Bill, take the eye patch down.’ And I was like, ‘Awww f###! Man, this is some b#######.’ I strongly believe that what goes on in this house stays in this house. I didn’t really want to put Bill out there like that. How many people have gotten their eye shot out and captured it on an album cover for everyone to remember? It’s hard to wake up in the morning and deal with that one.

Mr. Scarface Is Back (1991)

That album cover was shot near the same place we recorded the first Geto Boys album. And, no, that wasn’t real coke on the table. That was f###### flour. But the guns were real. Still, I was so reckless back then that at 19-year-old I know I would have taken that coke and sold it [laughs].

Willie D. didn’t like the fact that Scarface of the Geto Boys was printed on the cover. He did not like that s### one bit. But the plan was for me to always go solo. J new that; it was always understood. I think a song like “Mr. Scarface” became so popular because there were a lot of elements to it. First, it had that nursery rhyme intro that everybody could sing to. Then there was a real story you could follow. I consider myself a storyteller.

READ IT ALL: Scarface Breaks Down Geto Boys & Solo Catalogue