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Scarface, M.A.D.E.

"I write in tears and pray till it hurts," Houston rapper emeritus Scarface offers on the excellent "Who Do You Believe In" on the grim, mournful M.A.D.E., an album that's as much Old Testament as old school. Paranoia is pervasive, vengeance sweet and Face has little love for "faggots" and "hos." On "Girl You Know," he even offers up a bit of biblical fan fiction: "If Adam would've had another squeeze, he might not have ate those fruits from the tree of life." While it's unlikely Mike Huckabee will adopt the song as his campaign anthem, devout fans of the former Geto Boy will swallow this whole. The production's sludgy, shuffling blues perfectly matches the songs' weighty violence, and Face's hard-boiled narratives and painstakingly detailed imagery are so vivid they singe the eardrums. "The courtroom is the hood," and "hands got powder burns" as "the body bloody underneath the sheet is waiting for Christ." Scarface surveys the carnage, alternating between anger and sadness as he confides, "I'm losing my friends." Things reach their epoch as he nears his emotional nadir on the harrowing "Suicide Note," where Scarface concludes, "You either struggle or you hustle." From the sound of things, he's been doing a lot of both.

 
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