More homies than Scarface, but still pretty great.

Shades of Monty Python's cheese shop: There really isn't that much Scarface on this Scarface album. Sure, among a couple of other humdrum 'Face tracks, the album closes with a decent Geto Boys number ("My Life," complete with a Curtis Mayfield impersonation on the hook), and there's the rolling-thunder single "Never Snitch," which you've probably already heard.

You might not know the backstory to "Never Snitch," though, so here it is: Lil' Troy has been waving around legal documents that he says prove that 'Face was a snitch back in the early '90s. Ozone magazine had a lawyer analyze the documents, and it was his belief that Troy has little or no case. At any rate, 'Face felt compelled to clear the air with "Never Snitch," and it's easy to imagine the brain trust at Rap-A-Lot figuring that they might as well add an intro and some other bits and pieces and come up with this album.

'Cause My Homies Part 2 is most often just that: 'Face's homies. Luckily, a couple of them turn in astounding tracks.



Most notably Z-Ro. To paraphrase Bum Phillips, if he isn't in a class by himself, it sure don't take too long to call roll. On his "Man Cry," producer Mike Dean serves him up a jangling-bell, simmering-clouds-of-weed-smoke keyboards track and Z-Ro knocks it smack into the Crawford Boxes. No, it doesn't break new ground. As he often does, Z-Ro looks back on his hardscrabble southside youth and wonders why he's still broke and his fame isn't as widespread as it should be: "Too many haters tryin' to take a player off his game / not tryin' to be ballin' thick I'm just tryin' to have some thangs / just like crabs in a bucket these people tryin' to drag me down / if I didn't have so many obstacles just think where I could be now / on MTV or BET or in some magazine / instead I'm stressin', hooked on codeine, headed to tragedy / sometimes I think it's better just to die / 'cause I never seen a man cry / till it was my own eye."

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Eyes of another sort are spotlighted on "We Out Here," which the New Orleans accents of the rappers involved -- Skip and the Big Easy posse the Ghetto Slaves -- render as "W'ow'cha." This is an odd one: post-Katrina rhymes over that jolly yodeling track from Mike Jones's "Cuttin'." "Things was all gravy till that hurricane popped up / then the levee broke and had the whole city stopped up / things got hectic / everybody split up / but a lot of us sittin' in Texas -- nigga, W'ow'cha!" On the last verse, gravel-throated Skip spits some lines that are bubbling under the mind of every Houstonian, be he a Katrina exile or a native: "Yeah, I'm in Houston but you knew that / a nigga like me / old-school New Orleans like a throwback / and when they build it I'ma go back."

That may be so. But if you're looking for a full-on Scarface comeback album, you're still, as Bushwick Bill once put it, "a waitin' muthafucka."

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