March 15, 2016

Scarface "The Fix" (Vibe Magazine, 2002)

"Someone once said that the rap game reminded him of the crack game. Though it's a facile comparison, there's no question that many hip-hop fans, plagued by redundant subject matter and recycled phrases, are fiending for substance like Robert Downey Jr. in a locked hotel room. It's only appropriate, then, that Scarface the original street pharmacist, step up with The Fix, his best album in almost a decade... On songs like "Sell Out," Face proves he can run with today's best, firing off polysyllabic rhymes with the nonchalance of Jada and the subtle depth of Nas... He has finally broken free of his patented pendulum flow, heightening the emphasis on the last words of each. Thematically, though, Face more or less sticks to the script his listeners have come to expect: The streets are coldhearted and your best friend will stab you in the back over a dime piece, a dime bag, or even just two nickels, so surrender yourself to spirituality and find peace. But like a truly great MC, Scarface finds new ways to address the same old problems... But rhymes alone don't make an album, and it's Face's superb selection of soulful, bass-heavy beats that propels The Fix along."

"...Blueprint alumnus Kanye West once again proves to be an able vinyl reanimator, offering up sweet organ samples on the Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel collab, "Guess Who's Back," as well as glassy xylophone accents and an abrasive, funky drum break on "In Cold Blood." And yet, the cement that holds the LP together is not the big-name beatmakers; it's the markedly improved production of Mike Dean and Scarface himself. Experimenting with creative arrangements on songs like the intense Nas collab "In Between Us," the two deftly defy the current formula for 16-bar verses and 8-bar choruses. As a genre, gangsta rap has had an incredibly hard time growing up; most of its artists run out of new things to say shortly after the release of their first album. But with The Fix, Scarface makes a compelling argument that gangstas can, in fact, mature. More importantly, they can use that hard-won wisdom and experience to create some of the best music of their lives." - Vibe, 9/02. Dig it...