January 25, 2012

A Reader's Gut Reaction: Scarface - The Fix (August 6, 2002)

(Today's Reader Review comes from Justa, who decided that it was taking far too long for me to get to the Scarface solo discography myself. So he wrote up Face's seventh album (and first for Def Jam South), The Fix, for me. Hey, I just gave you two reviews in one; let me take this quick nap. Leave some notes for him below.)

Once upon a time, the house that Russell and Rubin built, Def Jam Records, started a offshoot labeled they called Def Jam South (how creative!). In order to legitimize this spinoff, one of the most respected rappers alive today, Houston's own Brad Jordan (also known as Scarface from the Geto Boys) was named president of this new venture. In turn, Scarface left his old label home, Rap-A-Lot Records, in favor of going where the money was.

Now I'm not really sure what Face actually did during his tenure, aside from releasing an album from labelmate Ludacris's weed carriers Disturbing Tha Peace (I won't speak much on the rest of them, but the Field Mobb (who wants to see Max actually write a review for them? Anyone?) and Shawna can actually spit). But one of his first moves was to record and release his seventh solo album, The Fix. One major advantage of his label jump from Rap-A-Lot to Def Jam South was a much bigger budget to work with, which meant that Face could finally afford to pay A-list outside producers to work for him.

When The Fix was released, former hip hop bible The Source (before being outright discredited thanks to the Lil Kim and Ray Benzino nonsense) anointed it with their once-widely recognized rating of five mics. The album featured some of the hottest producers of the time, including a pre-The College Dropout/post-The Blueprint Kanye West (on three tracks). Most hip hop fans weren’t used to hearing Uncle Face spittin' on anything that wasn’t Down South-style production, so The Fix was seen as an attempt to attract the attention of both the people who believed that “true” hip hop only came from either New York or California and the people who were watching BET before eleven o'clock (and I think all two of y'all know what I'm talking about).

Would Scarface gain a sales boost as a result of his label switch? Would radio play any of the singles from The Fix? And, most importantly, would Brad Jordan sell out?

An introductory skit with some fake Curtis Mayfield-like dude singing about being strung out? Yeah, this won't be getting a replay, that's for sure.

The first actual song that you can hear Brad Jordan rap over is dope. He's in classic Face mode, definitely going in over this Southern-fried China Black beat. I have no complaints.

The first beat from Kanye West on The Fix, recorded before the producer “wasn’t to cool for the safe belt”, follows up the last track as something Brad sounds right at home on. For those of you afraid of 'Ye's inclusion on The Fix, don't worry: there is no Auto-Tune present anywhere on “In Cold Blood”. Remember, this album was released back when Cher was the only artist using it.

I’m never a fan of the long song intros where Hova just talks for hours on end. But when he finally raps, he at least turns in a solid verse. Scarface fits right into Mr. West's second beat of the day, and Beans is pretty good, too. The production work leans a bit more toward the Roc-A-Fella dynasty of old than it does Mr. Scarface, but this was still a cool track.

I love this track. I love the fact that it received regular radio airplay. I love the video. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this song. 'Nuff said.

Some down south production courtesy of Nottz? Winning! (Are people still saying this?) This song is about haters, basically, but Face doesn't just claim that there are folks out there who are hatin': he actually goes into detail about the folks that plot to keep him down. He even manages to not make the word “haters” (one of the most overused pieces of a rapper's vocabulary) sound tired.

I always appreciate it when Face takes a somber look at life. The pain in his voice always gets to me: he's just that good at expressing emotion, which is a skill a lot of artists have a problem with. The hook is kind of paint-by-numbers, though.

Nas gets right into his verse as only he can, and then Scarface finally comes in almost three full minutes into the track. No, the guest doesn't have a second verse: the middle of the song is dominated by a fake T-Boz (of TLC)-sounding performer on the (somewhat preachy) hook. That's what we all look for in a Scarface/Nas collaboration, right? Next!

The Neptunes handled the production on this track, and the beat isn't bad. Faith Evans is on it as well, and I'll let you in on a little secret: she isn't rapping. Face shares his faith (see what I did there?) with the listener on this song (I wonder if I can now refer to Malice (of the Clipse) as a biter, now that he only spits God-related verses?) Overall, there may be too much Faith for me to truly enjoy this song (and I'm not talking about the subject matter).

This song seems to have been awkwardly shoehorned into the tracklisting. After a light beat from The Neptunes on the previous track, this West Coast-paced instrumental just doesn't sound like a good fit. As you may have guessed from the title, “Sellout” is about those who create “fake-fake-fake records-records” and who are just frontin' in general. It isn't a bad song, but whoever sequenced The Fix didn't do it justice.

Another Kelly Price feature? Was she really that popular ten years ago? She actually gives one of the better R&B features of the entire album, though, on a track where Face gives the listener a peek into what he considers to be “Heaven”. Right when you think there will be a third chorus, the instrumental switches into something much harder-sounding (definitely Kanye West's influence as a co-producer), and Face calls out pretty much the entire United States of America. This might be one of the best songs on The Fix.

Remember that song from earlier that I said didn't sound like a good fit? Well, “I Ain't The One” is even more out of place. The production is more West Coast-ish, and WC (of Madd Circle and Westside Connection fame) contributes a verse. The song sounds good for what it was, though.

This was just an outro.

THE LAST WORD: Before people start calling me a hater, let me start off with the positive: the eleven songs featured on Scarface's The Fix still sound fresh even though it's been about ten years since it was first released. Face doesn’t disappoint lyrically, and the production is top-notch. Now the bad: it only lasts for eleven tracks (and two interludes), so while I still feel that the project was fairly solid, it could have used maybe two more songs to tie it together a bit better, especially with those two California-influenced entries that were thrown in at random, probably because there was nowhere else to place them. I still will go on record to say that The Fix is a must-own album. There is plenty on here to enjoy, and if you already like Scarface, the album presents the same goodness he’s been putting out there for years, just with a bigger budget. If you're not a Scarface fan, I think there is enough on The Fix to engage you as well. Definitely go out and cop this: the five-mic rating actually makes sense, and this should really be in your collection already.


(Leave your comments for Justa below.)


  1. Actually re-reading some old P_Captain Scarface/Geto Boys reviews (which I had originally somewhat disagreed with) caused me to revisit their old albums, which I really enjoy now. Despite this album being one of his best sellers I've never given "The Fix" a listen; I've just always appreciated the old Houston sound over anything newer. Maybe I'll see if I can find this one and give it a chance.

  2. The song "Safe" is by far my favourite song on this album. It's fucking unbelievable.

  3. Good read, definitely a transgression on Max's part, I'm actually gonna go bump this now

  4. Good review but I don't think you should put brackets inside of brackets.

  5. a good album, I won't argue about the classic status some have been attributing to it even though I don't think so. Anyway tho shit maybe good but it ain't nowhere near the greatness of The Diary, and even Mr Scarface Is Back is better IMO.

  6. Nice to review a Scarface album, Justa.

    But I think that the album is good due to the fact that Scarface is on it. I agree that the album is a little bit short, but half of the tracks sound like R&B songs. I don't know what the reason for that is, but slow beats don't suit Scarface. As always, lyrically he's OK, but half of the instrumentals are kind of soft for him. Which leads us to the production and budget. I think that the Rap-A-Lot camp was the most talented production team ever and Face shouldn't have let them out, but Def Jam was the reason for that I guess.

    Although Rap-A-Lot had always a limited budget for it's records, they managed to create classics, not just hits.

  7. Glad I didn't get the troll like backlash from the Cult of Anonymous Commenters

    "Safe" is definitely a beast, album defintely has stood the the test of time, I review strictly on what it is, not on a comparison plateu with his previous works. Maybe Max or I will go on those later though and test your statement out though.

  8. how do i get a review on here.?

  9. You e-mail Max at max.hiphopisntdead@gmail.com

  10. review DIARY NOW.

  11. what about The Diary??? y'all need to review this one, which is his best imo

  12. Funny story: I've actually listened to an instrumental of Guess Who's Back before I've even heard of the album or the song when I saw a video of someone rapping over it, it was only until I heard it on the radio was I able to find out what it was; it was a Scarface song produced by Kanye West; "Guess Who's Back"!

    Anyway, great review Justa; your track record continues on without a blemish.

  13. Nice! Anyone who speaks positively on Scarface and Geto Boys is a friend of me!

    Good review and I agree with you for the most of it although I love "Someday" because it also touches me personally too with it's message. With that aside, this is a classic and Face's third one after Mr. Scarface is Back and The Diary.

    And KMD, does The Diary ring a bell? That's an album with a lot of softish g-funky beats and that album is the greatest piece of work Face has ever blessed the world with. "I Seen a Man Die" is the original gangsta ballad and it's one of the greatest things ever in music.

    1. It's just a matter of taste. "The Diary" had indeed these "softish g-funky beats", like you said. But to ME there is a difference between slow melodic beats and R&B touched songs. I don't like to hear female vocals on a track, where Face is speaking things out of his soul. Call it what you want, but that's me.

      This doesn't mean though that I don't like Justa's review or that I reject Scarface's post 2000 work.

      And a sidenote: to me Scarface's best work is 1. "The world is yours" 2. "Mr. Scarface is back" and 3. "The diary". Although "The Diary" had already switched from the classic Rap-A-Lot sound to something newer, it's still a really great piece of work to me, because the blues was everywhere present. I like that Scarface always included guitar strings to his records.

  14. I admit this album could have done without the excessive sung hooks but apart from "In Between Us", none of them were RUINED by it which is good.

    And The World is Yours is a beast of an album, I LOVE it so damn much, specially "Comin' Agg". His fourth best after The Diary, Mr. Scarface is Back and The Fix, in that order. World Is Yours just got some filler that was unneeded otherwise it would be a classic. ("Strictly for the Funk Lovers", "Funky Lil Nigga", "I Need a Favor")