The Diary from Scarface is a good audio movie picture.
Today we are celebrating Houston legendary rapper 50th birthday, Scarface. Being a part of the group the Geto Boys with Willie D and the late Bushwick Bill to go on in his career as a solo artist, Uncle Face made quite a respectable name for himself in the rap game, and he is probably one of my favorite storytelling rapper ever. That is the reason why I chose to do a throwback review on one of his 11 albums, and the one I chose is The Diary which came out on October 18th, 1994 under Rap-A-Lot Records. The 13 album track only features Ice Cube and Devin The Dude.
The Diary starts with the introduction "Intro" which it's a piano being played followed by a gunshot. The introduction sets the tone of the album's tone after that gunshot followed by the song "White Sheet" where it contains gangsta lyricism with themes such as murder and drugs. The term "Here Comes The White Sheet" refers to the white sheet that is being put over a dead body on its way to the morgue. The gangsta and neighborhood storytelling by Scarface continues on songs like "No Tears", "G's", "The Diary", and "Jesse James" and let's not forget the funky and gangsta instrumental vibe that resembles the Westcoast vibe. The track "Jesse James" starts with a mafioso piano sound followed by a funky beat and Face raps about being the reincarnation of real-life outlaw Jesse James, and he tells the story about murdering people who mess with him. If you mind the lyrics, you'll see that they're deranged and savage, yet the beat is good, and the story-telling rapping of Scarface sounds like an audio movie if you're not offended by the lyrics.
The song "I Seen a Man Die" is the first single from the album and the instrumental has a smoother and darker vibe. Scarface raps a story about a young man who was a victim of a vicious circle about when you take a life from someone, your life will be taken as well. In the 3 verses song, Face ends each verse, with the line "I never seen a man cry 'til I seen a man die" which is deep. Scarface said about this song that he was high when he recorded it, he then listened to it again without the influence and he kept the song like it was because he thought a lot of people could reflect and relate to this song, and you could understand the meaning of the song more by watching the music video.
In the second half of the album, we're back on the gangsta beat with the song "One" and Scarface raps a tale about him and his boys having fun with women by doing sexual activities. The hook with the women singing the hook brings a good head-bobbing beat regardless of the lyrics. The same theme continues with the song "Goin Down" which samples the famous 80's song "99 Luftballons" by Nena. Scarface also did a reprise of "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" from the Geto Boys in 1991 with his own "Mind Playin Tricks 94". Scarface did a good job by himself without Willie D, Bushwick Bill, and J. Prince by keeping the same vibe and theme topic.
"Hand of The Dead Body" is the second single from the album which features Ice Cube and Devin the Dude on the hook, and it's the only song with a featuring. Despite the album having heavy gangsta lyrics like murders, drugs, and sex, Face raps about the reality he's been seeing since a youngin' because of the circumstances he grew up inside an inner-city. Scarface says why the media are aiming at gangsta rap music lyrics but you watch movies with Matt Dillon killing people, people idolizing John Gotti. He even states that he went to rich white neighborhoods and people also have a gun and letting David Duke who was a "grand wizard" of the KKK with a shotgun who tried to run for president in 1988 and 1992 shows the hypocrisy of White Amerikkka. When it comes to Ice Cube's verse, he aims at fellow black brothers like Don Cornelius and Reverend Calvin Butts who disliked hip-hop by not understanding the voice and struggle of these young brothers in their songs. Ice Cube reminds everyone he started this gangsta reality in 1986 with N.W.A. and he keeps on doing it in 1994 with Rap-A-Lot, while Devin the Dude sings on the hook by reminding us to not believe what you hear in songs because real gangsters don't live that gangster lifestyle so long. Don Cornelius who was the creator of Soul Train, passed away in 2012 and Ice Cube did pay off his condolences via Twitter.
There is not one single song in The Diary that I could skip, because Scarface did a great job painting this album into an audio movie with his ability to rap a good story. With certain songs at the beginning of the album where he raps about killing and murder, in songs like "Hand of The Dead Body", he explains why he raps the stories he does. The album has great production with the gangsta beats and the smooth funk, and the way Scarface raps resembles the styles of Spice 1 who is another good gangsta rap storyteller.
Beat Instrumental: 4/5
Album Production: 4/5
Overall Score: 4/5