"Emeritus," Webster tells us, means to be retired but to retain an honorary title. And if this really is Scarface's final rap LP (he's mentioned playing in a rock band afterwards, of all things), it seems a reasonable request. He is, after all, a rap deity, his lethargic flow visceral and consequential. Somehow, he raps with a surety that gives an otherwise simple and deliberate statement endless layers of meaning and truth, a quality only a handful of other MCs have ever managed. When he says something, it's true, even if it's not. On "It's Not A Game," a New Age Geto Boys-ish track, when he proclaims, "John McCain hates niggas," you can't help but think, "You know, you're right Face, John McCain does hate niggas." Not surprisingly, then, Emeritus is great; 12 tracks — a brass intro and outro seem to be the only evidence of Face's impending retirement — that fall perfectly in line with the trajectory of his career. (Production and guest contributions are all overshadowed by Face's performance.) "Forgot About Me," a rat-a-tat hip-hop throwback that features solid efforts from Weezy and Bun B, is the catchiest song on the LP, but the Z-Ro-chorused "Soldier Story," a somber ode to the grit of the ghetto, and the title track's rolling thunder provide the most emotive verses. The latter ends with an earnest declaration that gives a massive amount of weight to his threatened retirement: "I came up on mu-fuckin' Rakim and KRS-One and NWA and shit like that, nigga. Bitch, you came up on me." He's right. Scarface is, after all, a rap deity.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.