Ten years ago today, Scarface broke through nationally for good with The Fix. His work with the Geto Boys had made him a cult favorite, making his story of being better than amazing to put Houston on the rap map.
The Diary; Mr. Scarface Is Back rank as Nos. 3 and 6 on Rocks Off's list of the Top 25 Houston Rap Albums of All-Time* but asking about The Fix is almost like asking what was Michael Jordan's best game. It wasn't given 5 mikes in The Source (back when that mattered) for career achievement but rather of how much of a sprawling masterpiece it is.
Face always came forth with the lyrics, that was never an issue. Introspective, sometimes woeful and working with a gargling voice, the man born Brad Jordan essentially used The Fix and Def Jam's yielding of creative freedom to create an album that picked up pieces of his previous works.
There was the brazen funk exhibited from Last of a Dying Breed's "It Ain't (Pt. 2)" by Erick Sermon and its sneering, spit at the crown essence given in production from Kanye West (a year after The Blueprint made him big, a year before he made himself bigger), Nottz (underrated) and more.
Ironically, up until that point, The Fix was the one Scarface album where Mike Dean wasn't it's chief producer, not even N.O. Joe makes an appearance in the liner notes.
As often as he had a penchant for being the devil's second hand with "I Seen A Man Die" and his usual brushes in between the metronome of paranoia and salvation, Face turned to his own mortality on The Fix. A highlight stashed within numerous highlights, "Someday" takes The Neptunes percussion and Faith Evans voice of spiritual reason for Face to become a harbor of wisdom, having been "touched by the spirit" so that we all could hear it.
It's a funky, bass-driven piece where its main protagonist had been knee-deep in Houston's often moody, piano- and organ-driven molasses and opted for something far more expanding at the time. Elastic, memorable and soulful production, if you will.
West served up a double whammy with "Guess Who's Back" and "In Cold Blood," the former being the second monumental collaboration between 'Face, Hov and Beanie Sigel, using The Originals' "Sunrise" as a backdrop and the latter being another notch in Face's belt with its combination of xylophones accents and deep drums.
You don't truly begin to froth over how good The Fix was guest-wise until you you realize Scarface was the only man in existence who had both Nas and Jay-Z on the same album when they were still involved in the most discussed lyrical rap feud ever. **
At 14, my interpretation of The Fix went something like this, a wonderful binge where the highs were well-documented and the sullen lows all conclude with finding the Lord. "Guess Who's Back" never got past six seconds on my iPod, immediately switching over to the Southside ode "My Block" and to this day, it still irks me.
Yet nothing on the album truly touches the harrowing introspect of "In Between Us," the dark, intense single where Face, underrated Houston songstress Tanya Herron and Nas discussed friendships and deceit around Mike Dean's harrowing piano keys. Herron's voice made her sound strung out, pained and hurt while two pillars of storytelling weaved stories about the worst kind of betrayal.
To think, ten years ago this was Scarface taking the concept of southern rapper stretching farther East that Last of a Dying Breed wanted to accomplish and nailing it like a Gabby Douglas vault. To do it now almost seems par for the course given how much regionalism has fallen since The Fix.
It's the most beloved mainstream radio album in Face's discography and if you have him tell it - one of his favorites to make.
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* For argument's sake, The Fix is Scarface's second greatest album behind The Diary. It wasn't listed in the rankings and was explained why in further detail.
** Rick Ross recently achieved the feat on his God Forgives, I Don't album but that's a decade after the fact and those two toast to one another at Bar Mitzvahs and shit now.