DAR Hip Hop: Scarface's The Fix

By @TrueGodImmortal

1. The Fix (Intro)
2. Safe
3. In Cold Blood
4. Guess Who's Back 
5. My Block 
6. Keep Me Down 
7. What Can I Do
8. In Between Us 
9. Someday 
10. Sellout
11. Heaven 
12. I Ain't The One
13. Fixed (Outro)

There are albums where the artist seeks spiritual salvation in the midst of trying to rise above his demons. There are albums where a well known name tries to remind you of exactly what he does best. There are albums that are soul searching and reflective. There are albums that tells stories of life and our reality within it. Very rarely has there been an album that does all of these. However, when talking about Brad Jordan and his brand of hip hop music, one shouldn't be surprised that he crafted an album that managed to do all of these. What made it surprising is that after being the game for well over 10 years at this time, that he would release his crown jewel and his best album. 14 years after the release of this album, today we look back at Scarface's classic The Fix.

The album starts off with a simple intro, setting the tone for what's to come from Face, and he gets right into it with the sinister sounding "Safe". It's a relatively short song to start us off and Face does his thing as usual. The song that truly grabs me is the amazing Kanye produced"In Cold Blood", which has some of Face's more straightforward lyricism on the album. It's honestly funny in retrospect to see this album start off with a song in this particular manner, but the contradiction throughout is appealing in its own right. Check the first verse from Face as he sets the tone here:

"I started small time, dope game, pushing on the corner/
Twenty cent cook-up, fifty flippers if you want 'em/
Full of formaldehyde, my clothes reeking marijuana/
Cops rollin up on us/ 
My neighborhood's like a sauna/
Pistol-grippin, insuring won't nobody run up on us/
But if they do, fuck 'em, we murderous, nickel-dome 'em/
I ain't playin no games, I'm on a mission fo' the change/
Motherfuck bein a lame/ 
I'm ten toes in the game/ 
I can't slip, this whole world want me sleep/
See I hustle like a predator and prey on the weak/
And playin for keeps/
Cause see, it's a thin red line/
Between a nigga gettin his, and me gettin mine"

There's some infinite street wisdom within Face's lyrics and that's just one example of it. The next track is the first single, the Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel featured "Guess Who's Back", which is still knocking in my speakers every time I hear it. Now, Face comes with a solid verse and so does Beans, but it's almost instantly obvious that this song belongs to Jay. His verse is so flawlessly executed and he flows amazing along with slick wordplay to accompany it. Check the verse:

"You can still smell the crack in my clothes/
Don't make me have to relapse on these hoes/
Take it back out to taxin them roads/
When I was huggin it/
Niggas couldn't do nothing with it/
Straight from the oven wit it/ came from the dirt/
I emerged from it all without a stain on my shirt/
You can blame my old earth/
For the shit she instilled in me, Still with me, pain plus work/
Shit she made me milk this game for all it's worth/
That's right, these niggas can't fuck with me, I'm callin guts everytime/
Drag my nuts everytime/
We make a great combination don't we?/
Me and the Face Mob/
Everytime we face-off/
Face it y'all/
Y'all niggas playin basic ball/
I'm on the block like I'm eight feet tall/
Homie, I'm in the drop with the AC on/
That's why the, streets embrace me dawg/
I'm so cool!"

I'd go as far as to say that this is a top 20 verse from Jay and that it's one of his best feature verses of all time. The cool and calm demeanor Jay displayed is a contrast to the style of Face, but Face manages to also come with a solid enough verse to stand out as I mentioned. This is Face's album of course, and while his guest spots have a tendency to steal the show here (especially later on in the album), he always manages to hold his own. He then follows up this song with the reflective and honest "On My Block", which is furthered by a great sample that provides a canvas for Face to paint on. It's one of the best moments on this album, and despite the hook being a bit weak (it really is, it's just an overall dope song so you don't notice it much), Face comes with it regardless.

My least favorite song on this album would have to be the next track "Keep Me Down", though it's still a very solid song, it's just one I tend to skip regularly when I listen to this album. The beat was a bit generic to me surprisingly, and though Face spits some of his usual street wisdom, it almost seems out of place in this album. I think the hook is the worst part of the song, but when you take the lackluster production and combine it with that hook, this is why I tend to skip the song. Let me be completely honest and say that Face probably has some of his best verses on the album here, with the most focus in his aggression so far in the album. If only a better beat and somewhat of a less cheesy hook and this song would have been perfect. This is literally the only blemish on this entire album.

However, the next song is one of the deepest songs Face created at that point in his career, "What Can I Do". Face is in his soul searching mode now, as we hit the middle of the album, and the spiritual side of this album comes now. Kelly Price provides a beautifully layered hook and Face starts his deep spiritual journey asking the Lord for help at one of his most vulnerable times. His verses are like miniature prayers in lyrical form, and his 2nd verse is probably the most poignant of them all. He reaches into the depths of his soul here:

"And then a child is born, bloody legged, clingin' to life/
Unaware of his surroundings or breathing is right/
In the arms of his mother as he looks in her eyes/
He takes his first breath and he screams (baby's alive)/
At the same time, another mother, murders her kids/
And the unbearable thought of this here, just brings me to tears/
It's hard enough we gotta raise our kids to live in this world/
So full of hate with no faith, and killin' your pearls/
And sometimes, I sit it down, and wonder myself/
But then again, I ain't Jesus, and I can't help/
All I can do, is hope I never live with the fact/
That if I heard one of my seeds is dealing with that/
That'd be the hardest thing, I'd ever have to do in my time/
I'd have to take my own life too, and I couldn't glide/"

This is the start of the personal salvation that Face seemingly seeks. I love the delivery of emotion in his verses here and the craziest part is that this is probably the weakest of all his soul searching tracks on here, but still an amazing song on this album. In the moments of self reflection and soul searching, Face teams up with Nas on the epic "In Between Us", and much like on "Guess Who's Back", Face is outdone by his guest. That's once again not to say that Face can't hang with Nas or any guest for that matter, it's just that Nas is in his element here and delivers one of his greatest feature verses. Check it out:

"Circumstances are like my first fight I lost it, was swinging, my arms bugging/
Adrenaline pumping/
Oh shit, this little nigga's thugging/
I mean, I was thirteen, I was nursing a knot on my face/
But chose another time and a place/
That I would avenge my last fight/
Cause the same shit ain't gonna happen that just happened last night/
Knuckle game changed quicker than lightning/
Hit 'em or slice 'em/
Either stick 'em or blast pipes/ 
It's the fastlife/
I try to give another nigga advice, shoot dice, do plenty of shit/
Cause this life, how many you get?/
How many niggas do you know get two/
Besides a nigga who snitch to skip a life-bid, be one of your crew/
I don't respect killers, I respect O.G. knowledge/
Codes of the streets got new rules, but no guidance/
Lessons, detrimental to a young disciple/
Focus, take care of your brothers, niggas do as I do/
Keep your enemies close, where they can see you/
It's not your enemy who get you
It's always your own people/"

Now, we expected that form of street wisdom from the wise Face, but Nas takes on that role of teacher in the streets and some of his lines here are way too vital, especially his ending line that he repeats a few times. It's a line that strikes me more and more as the days go by to be honest. Regardless, this song is a great listen, but Nas takes the driver's seat here and it feels like Face is fine with the backseat. However, the next few songs begin to round out the album and provide us more of that wisdom we come to love from Face, but the next song is what I consider the best song on the entire album and it is one of my top 5 favorite Face songs period.

As the somber yet smooth sounds of The Neptunes production begins, Face seems a bit despondent and begins to talk over the melodic beat and Faith Evans' adlibs. The hook comes in from Faith and from the moment you hear her, you instantly know what type of song this will be. It's a declaration to the power and strength of God, and while that's not what you'd expect from a Gangsta Rap legend, the maturation of Face comes full circle on this song. The first verse is touching in a way, and it's Face at his most vulnerable yet somehow hopeful:

"I wanna walk with you, follow in your footsteps/
Talk with you to find out where my good's kept/
I been gone away from home for so long/
Seems like everything I try to do without you go wrong/
I'm confused about a lot of things, but not with my fate/
So I'm depending on your holy ghost to guide me the way/
See I'm a sinner in the 3rd degree/ 
Ain't afraid to admit it, cause I seen niggas worse than me/
Who am I to judge a man when I'm a man myself/
In the dark, trying to get me some help/
I went from pawn to king, king back to pawn/
Doing my best to try to ease out the storm/
I know that every tunnel's got an end and a light/
And I prepared a new beginning in Christ/
My life is like a jigsaw dulling in time/
And as I'm thumbing through this jigsaw puzzle of mine/"

It's moments like this that remind you why Face is a legend. It's his ability to say what he really feels in his lyrics without a care in the world that really makes him a special MC. Face expresses emotions throughout the song and he even reaches a somber point as his 2nd verse deals with loss and pain:

"It seems like every other Wednesday I'm attending a wake/
But I don't question you, I know that's your way/
I know we living for the minute and there's a moment in time/
We've got to leave here, cause that's your design/
And nothing lasts forever, not even spirit, only your word/
That's what I live by, 'cause that's what I heard/
I wasn't there when you rose from the dead or parted the sea/
I never seen you, but still I believe/
How you explain the moon, the sky, the stars and the rain, the sun and the sea/ 
The earth without form facing the deep/
In darkness challenging the powers that be/
It's impossible for scientists to make up the seas, to make up the trees/
So why we turn our backs on the truth?/
It's heaven or hell, the point we seem to hide from the youth/
And I was singing this morning, got touched by the spirit/
So I wrote it down for the homies to hear it/"

Whether or not I agree with the ideology in his verse is irrelevant,  but Face has a message he had to share with the world and he uses this song to do so. Once again, this song is one of my favorite Face tracks, and it's his ability to be so vulnerable and emotionally sound that carries this track even higher. Face takes a break from his vulnerable moment to call out some less than respectable people on "Sellout", which is a solid track, and Face doesn't disappoint as expected. However, the next track is another deep one and his last official moment on soul searching on this album.

"Heaven" is a T-Mix and Kanye West production with Kelly Price once again providing a lovely hook. The track is two parts, and the first part features a solid first verse and an amazing 2nd verse after Kelly's hook before he leads into the 2nd part of the track and the Kanye produced part of the beat with a third verse. I think the 2nd and 3rd verses are the best part of this song, though the 2nd verse is ripe with contradictions, but that makes it that much better. Face is struggling to find himself and his salvation and that journey is never perfect. Check his 2nd verse before the beat changes over:

"Listen to different scriptures, they teach on God/
And if you ain't never met him, don't speak on God/
I'm serious about religion, this just ain't no song/
I'm hearin' niggas makin' up scriptures, and playin' along/
Probably sayin' I'm the hypocrite, for judging these folks/
But you can tell he ain't a Christian, by the way that he spoke/
I pray for everbody, hoping that they hear that voice/
The one that paralyzes you from head down, boy/
When you're aware of your surroundings, yet you still can't move/
Water shooting outta your eyes when you hear this dude/
And the voice is much louder, than the voice that you thought was the voice of the holy spirit/
Who changed your life, when you hear it/
And the next morn', you wake up and the world look lighter/
The grass greener, and the sun brighter/
I know the feeling first hand, I witnessed the sights/
When I allowed the Lord to come in my life/
And it was like/ (Heaven)
But I'm a man, I ain't perfect/
That's a poor excuse, that ain't working/
I asked him for forgiveness, for every sin I commit/
Hopefully he gonna let me stay on his list/
I'm trying to get to heaven.."

This was the breakthrough moment of the album and a part of why this project is perfect imperfection. Face is the hypocrite in many ways, referencing religion, which is hypocrisy within itself, and telling people not to speak on God if they've never met him (though Face says himself earlier on the album that he's never seen God, but he just knows he exists), and while usually this would lead to a negative reaction, with Face, it's a positive thing to see such contradictory soul searching. It shows a man torn while trying to find his way and the 3rd verse drives that whole feeling home as well. Check it below:

"America the Beautiful, don't be so cold/
How do you expect our seeds gonna grow?/
When you trap us in the ghetto and show love, to the other muthafuckers, while we right here starving at home/
I'd cry, if I thought, that me sheddin' a tear might help/
Then again, me sheddin' tears don't help/
Wanna call up to the President, and see if he know hell/
Let him know you up shit creek yourself/
We all sinners/
Facin' the winter/
With no socks, and no shoes/
In a position, where we all gon' lose/
Tell the penitentiaries, we gonna need more schools/
Or what the fuck is we gonna do?/
Sit around and let the world pass us by?, Waitin' on a message from the Reverend/
And he ain't but another man, tryin' to get to heaven.../"

That final realization is like the last moment of a breakthrough spiritual feeling and an awakening. If Face ended the album there, this would have been completely perfect. He doesn't end the album there, but that's where I'll end this retro review of the album. Yes, the WC assisted "I Ain't The One" is the final official track and a solid listen, but the end of the spiritual journey that Face was on came after that last poignant line. It's the perfect end to the story of vulnerability, soul searching, contradiction, imperfection, and honesty. This is what makes The Fix so special to me. It's an album that doesn't necessarily clarify its message completely, but that's because the message is still a work in progress much like the man delivering it. It's a great story and the true maturation of Brad Jordan and Scarface. The bridge between the two.



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