Houston Music

Scarface: Emeritus

"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.

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Shea Serrano