Beats, rhymes and life are three of the corners where hip hop intersects. Few other TV shows have been able to cover all of these angles in-depth and authentically quite like REVOLT’s “Drink Champs,” which thrives on its candid conversations with the biggest and most influential figures in the game. We recap each episode, so you can always catch all the dropped gems.
On the latest episode of “Drink Champs,” N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN were visited by rap legend Scarface, who discussed his career, interest in politics, and some of his fondest memories with other rappers in the industry. During the sit down, the “Drink Champs” hosts also played recorded videos of other rappers and celebrities including Slim Thug, DJ Khaled, and LL Cool J, among many others, who all personally gave their flowers to Scarface and recognized him for his achievements.
Born Brad Jordan in Houston, Texas, Face first achieved fame as a member of The Geto Boys, a rap group signed to the James Prince-founded Rap-A-Lot Records label. Throughout the ‘90s, they released a string of albums and scored a major hit with the 1991 single “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”
Face continued to record with group members Willie D and Bushwick Bill, but also struck out on his own with his solo debut, Mr. Scarface is Back. Thereafter, over the course of several years, he became one of the biggest rappers from the south, setting the stage for future southern emcees to dominate hip hop.
He proved in 2019 that hip hop wasn’t his only passion and ran for a seat on Houston’s City Council. Even though he lost the race, he still has eyes on a political career to help minorities in his community. Last year, the rapper battled COVID-19 and suffered kidney failure, but has since recovered. Although he still needs a kidney, he told POWER 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” earlier this month that his son agreed to be a donor.
To help give fans a recap, REVOLT compiled a list of nine things we learned from the Scarface episode. Check them out below.
1. On His Friendship With DMX
Hip hop lost a legend with DMX’s passing in April, and Scarface told N.O.R.E. and EFN that he had a close friendship with the late rapper. “I think we were really good friends,” he said. “I don’t think we ‘fanned out.’ I know how much X loved me as a human, outside of the music shit.”
Scarface also recalled a joke that the two shared every time they saw each other. Instead of calling DMX by his stage name, he said he would refer to him by his real name, Earl. “We talked a lot, and we had this ongoing joke when we saw each other and I [would say], ‘God damn, Earl what you done did now?’”
2. On Getting Into Politics
Although Scarface lost the race for a seat in Houston’s City Council in 2019, he explained that he’s going to continue to pursue a political career because he’s tired of seeing minorities overlooked in the community.
“Ain’t nobody doing shit,” he said. “We steady marching, I ain’t trying to march anymore. Don’t make no new laws. Fix the old laws that they already got in fucking place. Fix that shit first, and then start coming up with some new shit. I’m definitely going to jump into politics because I’m tired of the ass-kissing. We got all these get-along ass politicians and I don’t want to a part of it. I’m going to be totally opposite. What’s in it for the Black people? What’s in it for the brown people? What’s in it for us?”
3. On The Geto Boys’ We Can’t Be Stopped Album Cover
The Geto Boys’ 1991 We Can’t Be Stopped album featured the group’s signature track, “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and the project went on to be the group’s most successful. While the album is lauded by critics and is credited to bringing Rap-A-Lot to the national scope, it also was notorious for its cover, which showed Scarface and Willie D standing next to Bushwick Bill on a hospital gurney. The graphic photo wasn’t staged — It was a real photo taken after Bill was shot in his eye following an altercation with his girlfriend. Scarface explained that the impromptu shoot was Prince’s idea.
“So, we had to go up to the hospital the next day and let me tell you how much of a thinker James is,” he said. “He wanted to go to the hospital the next day when Bill could have visitors and shoot the album cover. He got me and Willie to stand on each side of the gurney like was pushing him out there saying we can’t be stopped and snapped the photo with his eye hanging out and that was it.”
4. On His Music Being Labeled “Dark”
With signature tracks such as “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” “Smile,” and “Now I Feel Ya,” it’s safe to say that Scarface is definitely an early pioneer of gangster mood music. When asked by N.O.R.E. if he was in a dark place when writing his most famous songs, the MC explained that he just puts the pen to the paper and lets it flow when he writes.
“I just write music,” he said. “I go where the beat leads and where the spirit leads, and that’s just me. It’s almost like I don’t even write it. Everything in my head just comes out on that piece of paper. But, I think that if I gave those lyrics to somebody else and they put it on another beat, then it probably wouldn’t be as dark.”
5. On Not Making Music for the Radio
Scarface is a rap legend, but he never attained overwhelming success on the Billboard charts throughout his career. He admitted to the “Drink Champs” crew that he didn’t love his 2002 single “My Block” because he doesn’t enjoy making music for the radio.
“I’m not a radio single dude. I’m a street single,” he said. “I love the fucking streets. You know what the radio will do? They are going to play your shit and then it will be gone. You know what the streets are going to do? They are going to [keep playing] your shit.”
6. On Biz Markie Checking In On Him While Face Was Battling COVID-19
This month, the hip hop world lost another legend with the death of rap pioneer Biz Markie. While Scarface’s “Drink Champs” interview was recorded prior to Markie’s death, he reflected on how the now-late rapper called to check up on him last year as he battled COVID-19. “Biz would call and he would be cracking jokes, and he would be beatboxing,” he said. “Damn, Biz. I got a picture of me and him when I was a little kid.”
7. On Never Performing Overseas
Despite Scarface’s immense success in the rap game, he admitted to the “Drink Champs” that he has never flown overseas to perform. He explained that race relations in other countries are the reason for his apprehension. “I’m scared as fuck to go overseas,” he said. “I don’t mix well with others. If shit jumps off, I’m going ape shit. It’s not enough money.”
8. On Nas Initially Throwing Shots at JAY-Z On “In Between Us”
Scarface’s 2002 album, The Fix, featured guest appearances from both JAY-Z and Nas during the era as their notorious feud. Face revealed that when he was recording the track “In Between Us” with Nas for the album, the Queensbridge emcee used it as an opportunity to throw shots at his then-adversary. Once Scarface heard the verses, he quickly told Nas to do the song over because he didn’t want to be involved in their drama.
“Nas went [in] on JAY on that record,” he said. “I can’t remember everything that was said, but he went off. And I was like we not going to do that. He went back and did a whole [different] verse. I don’t do that. If y’all squabbling, let me stay where I’m at. I got my own lane.”
9. On Retiring from Rap
Although many rappers over the years have decided to continue their careers after they’ve reached middle age, Scarface told N.O.R.E. and EFN that he’s not interested in recording any more music and wants to retire. “It’s time to move on,” he said. “I’m 50…I’m chilling. I want to play golf, I want to get out on my yacht, I want to fish.”