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Scarface

The Fix (Def Jam South)

To say that Scarface's The Fix is his most commercial album to date is sacrilegious. It's almost like saying the man has completely sold out -- and that's the last thing any Scarface fan wants to hear. He's one of the original Geto Boys, for chrissakes! In fact, he helped hip the world to the fact that Houston does indeed have ghettos, that it ain't all about cowboy boots and longnecks around here. The man has made it a decade in the rap game without compromising his ballsiness, so even the slightest hint of him sounding mainstream is heartbreaking. Come on, say it ain't so, Plucky!

So we won't say it -- quite. It is worth noting, however, that The Fix is Scarface's most polished -- and shortest -- album to date. As the head of Def Jam's down-home division, Def Jam South, Scarface wields his clout to snare beats and a few guest stars that are worth his time. No more played-out synthesizers and derivative drum machines for him. In an H-town/Philly/Big Apple summit, Face travels to NYC and signs up Kanye West to drop beats on "Guess Who's Back?" with Roc-A-Fella family members Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel. Then he zooms down to Atlanta to record the pro-loyalty tune "In Between Us" with Nas. And yes, in case you were wondering, there is a track produced by the everywhere-at-once Neptunes, called "Someday," a faith-heavy number featuring hook work from -- you guessed it -- Faith Evans.

But as to whether Scarface is selling out with The Fix, let's just say he has maturedand leave it at that. Like so many MCs before him, Scarface has realized that you can't keep referring to yourself as a crazy-ass, trigger-happy young buck when you're making mortgage payments and dropping the kids off at day care. ("A nigga out here paying his dues / My baby's walking / Gotta get him some shoes.") But even the thirtysomething Scarface knows he has to present it from the hustler's perspective. Not to do so would risk losing the knuckleheaded kids and the callow/shallow thug rappers in his fan base. Lucky for him, that's still something he's very, very good at. Scarface is neither losing his touch nor denying who he is today. (And if you still can't shake the sellout notion, listen to Scarface himself address the issue in the funk-laden, aptly titled "Sellout.")

With The Fix, Scarface displays not only a stronger, defiant sense of responsibility but a broader vision. He's finally learning what many Houston rap artists would do well to pick up on: If you wanna distinguish yourself from the pack, you're gonna have to think outside your own zip code.

 
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