Written by Angelo Gingerelli
In a career spanning 25+ years Brad Jordan has worn many hats, from helping bring Dirty South Hip-Hop to the national spotlight as a founding member of the Geto Boys to being the marquee solo artist on indie label Rap-A-Lot records to taking an executive position with Def Jam records in the early 2000’s to his string of impressive solo albums, Scarface has produced quality, thinking man’s southern Hip-Hop since the late-80’s and “Deeply Rooted” carries on the same tradition.
Scarface has perpetually been included in the “Gangsta Rap” sub-genre, and while it’s not totally undeserved because his lyrics often include tales of street life, drug dealing, hustling, etc. It’s not totally accurate either, his narratives almost never end with criminal acts and usually deal with their aftermath including the depression and paranoia that often accompany “the life.” Scarface also often takes time to question the American justice system and economy and how they effect urban areas as well as his belief in God/organized religion. In this respect Face is somewhat of an anomaly in that he’s continually fused vivid tales of street life (Rick Ross, Kool G Rap) with social/political commentary (Immortal Technique, Public Enemy) and his personal inner monologue and emotions (Kid Cudi, Eminem) to craft compelling lyrics and impressive albums.
“Deeply Rooted” is Scarface’s first album since 2008’s “Emeritus” and is somewhat of a re-birth for the Houston rapper. To say his music has matured wouldn’t be fair because ‘Face has always rapped like a grown man, but the overall tone of this album seems significantly more optimistic than his previous work. Whether this is due to having complete creative control (the project is 100% independent), recently losing close to 100 Lbs. or that he’s been universally accepted as a living legend is hard to say, but this Scarface seems to have a much brighter world view that the nihilistic young man on “I Seen A Man Die” from twenty years ago.
The album starts off strong with a few cuts that reinforce Scarface’s legendary status and set the tone for the project but the highlights really start with “Steer” a stirring request for God to take the wheel and steer him in the right direction. The middle of the album is packed with songs that deal with issues like long term relationships (“Keep It Movin’” feat. Avant), the death of friends (“Voices”), parent/child dynamics (“You” feat. Cee-Lo), and what Scarface would do if he were God (“God” feat. John Legend). These concept songs serve as the foundation of the record and prove that when it comes to examining complex issues there are not many MC’s on Scarface’s level.
The production on “Deeply Rooted” consists of the same dramatic, emotional, somewhat somber sonic backdrops fans have come to expect on a Scarface album and the addition of R&B singers to several tracks add to the overall impact. The album only features a handful of guest MC’s but Nas & Rick Ross bring their A-Game to the ode to urban survival “Do What I Gotta Do.”
On a recent episode of The Combat Jack Show (a podcast featuring in-depth interviews with Hip-Hop legends) DJ Benhameen summed up Scarface’s career perfectly by stating plainly “No one does what you do” when speaking to ‘Face and “Deeply Rooted” reinforces the uniqueness of Scarface’s perspective and approach to making music as he delivers yet another example of why he deserves to be in the greatest MC’s of all time conversation.
Best Songs: “God” “Steer” and “You”
Perfect For: Sitting alone and contemplating the state of the world and your place in it.
Rating: 8 out of 10