Review : Scarface - Emeritus
UrbIt is difficult to take any MC seriously when he threatens to retire his microphone. Too $hort intended to quit in 1996, only to return three years later with the fittingly titled Can’t Stay Away. Jay-Z didn’t manage much longer, with his highly publicized retirement instead transpiring as a brief sabbatical. After twenty years of garnering Platinum plaques and 5 Mic plaudits, Scarface is the latest Hip-Hop artist to suggest he is turning his back on the music industry. With intentions of bowing out made public, ‘Face offers Emeritus. Morose yet triumphant, the LP makes it difficult to dispute the notion that the Houston veteran is prepared to fade to black.
The main reason that Emeritus seems so final is because it highlights how little Uncle ‘Face has left to prove. On the joyfully competitive posse cut “Forgot About Me,” for example, esteemed guests Bun B and Lil Wayne join the enlivened Geto Boy. Although Bun is considered the people’s champion of Hip-Hop and Wayne deems himself the Best Rapper Alive, it is Scar that shines brightest over Cool & Dre’s enigmatic score. Delivering his lyrics with an assuredness embedded after years of experience, he boasts, “I done sold so many records, I changed my name to life.”...full text
VillagevoiceBrad Jordan hasn't changed meaningfully in 20 years. The Houston rap giant's first famous song, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," found him sitting alone in a four-cornered room, haunted by visions. He was 21 years old, and George Herbert Walker Bush was president. Last month, Brad turned 39, and America elected Barack Obama. There's probably a 10-minute "We Didn't Start the Fire" anthem to be written about what's happened to rap music in between. But "the homey Scarface" remains proudly, defiantly alone, having made a point—a virtue—of never changing. Everything he believed in in his early twenties, he remains convinced of now that he's kicking 40's door down—a sad statement on inflexibility, but a testament to a peculiar kind of integrity.
Emeritus is Scarface's ninth studio album, and, he claims, his last, though he's been threatening retirement for so long, it's begun to feel like a reflex. He nonetheless remains consumed with righteous contempt for snitches and obsessed with "the code of the streets," as it were: "Let's keep it real/I got the documents to prove it/You a snitchin'-ass nigga/Tryin' to hide behind your music," he crows on "High Powered." The chorus of the mournful "Soldier Story" (which also features his quiet, elegant blues-guitar comping) says it all: "The streets always been my daddy/And mommy is the county jail/I'm a soldier and I'm about my mil/I ain't tryin' to do right/I'm already livin' in hell/Cuz I'm a gangsta." Scarface has built his entire persona around these kinds of cold-comfort affirmations, and here they feel like folk wisdom....full text
AllmusicWith Emeritus, the legendary Scarface brings his solo career to close, a declaration he made six yeas earlier, although this time it seems more realistic. The former Geto Boy's stipulation that collaborations are still possible is right in line with his recent projects like his three-man crew the Product but more than anything, there's a bitterness throughout Emeritus that feels like pulling up stakes and cutting your losses. Right from the extended intro where Rap-A-Lot CEO J. Prince roll calls the snitches as if it was jailhouse poetry, the album is filled spite for a game that doesn't appreciate its elder players. This uncompromising stance never wavers, even with an appearance from superstar Lil Wayne who, along with Bun B., contributes to the furious highlight "Forgot About Me." Bilal, an Ohio Players sample, plus accusations that corporate drug companies are pimping harder than crack dealers all make "Can't Get Right" a standout while "Soldier Story" and the ironically named "Redemption Song" both look back in anger at Face's rise to fame. With the rapper making women hit the "High Note" and getting hedonistic elsewhere, Emeritus is not the usual, very serious good-bye record, but in so many ways, it's a typical Scarface record. It's just better than usual with the rapper sounding liberated by his decision to move on....full text
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