Friday, December 31, 2004

Interview with Scarface

Originally seen in Murder Dog Magazine, current issue, Volume 11, #4. Though this is the entire unedited conversation. For the most part...

Marcus Hannschen photographs Scarface for Murder Dog Magazine at Rap A Lot Compound, 2004

By Matt Sonzala

Should people be surprised that there’s a new Geto Boys album?
I’m surprised. I’m surprised like a motherfucker. Really it was a quick process too. Shit it didn’t take no time. Yeah we all got together and said “Yo you wanna do it again?” And we all were like “Fuck it, let’s do it again.”

When Rap A Lot was talking about forming a new Geto Boys, did you have any feelings about that?
Yeah, I wasn’t gonna be in that shit though. Naw, and I love all them niggas. From Bun to Zro to Pimp to whoever, I love all them niggas. To me the Geto Boys is the foundation and I would love to see Bill and Will and me together back in the studio doing an album. It’s surprising that the shit just got done. Everybody’s got their own shit that they doing. Will’s doing real estate in Azerbijan, Bill is doing radio and I ain’t doing shit.

I heard that you’re a free agent right now, is that true?
Yeah I’m a free agent.

Scarface is not signed to a label?

What’s the next move? Are you going to take what you learned at Def Jam South and do something for yourself?
No, I’m tired of this shit man. I’m finna pull over. After this I’ma do one more album with somebody and I don’t know who the lucky candidates are but I’m strongly leaning toward making this my last solo album.

You’ve always seemed like music was a sort of release for you, but it also seemed sort of like a stress for you too.
Well you know if God kicked Satan out of Heaven, which was like the Angel of Music from the way I got it when I was growing up. And that wasn’t neither one worse than the other besides suicide, what in the fuck did Satan do to make God kick him out of Heaven? You know in my eyes, music has consumed my life. It has taken up all of my time. I wake up in the morning with music, I go to bed at night with music, I ride in my car with music. For once in my life I just want to… I mean, I been in music forever. I been playing music shit from when I was a baby. My family had bands, my mom was a singer, my grandmother was a singer, so the music was all I ever knew in my life. I finally got a chance to get my feet wet fucking with her and she, if I put that much time in something else I decided to do, I’d probably be better off. This shit got me tired. I’m just tired of this shit.

How could somebody who’s looked at as one of the greatest in the game gonna be better off doing something else?
I don’t know, we’ll see. We’ll see. I had an unbelievable amount of fun in my lifetime doing this shit, but I think that I’m gonna release another solo album on somebody’s label and I’ll be done.

You have a real broad taste when it comes to music, and I have heard you speak often about starting a band. Is that still a possibility?
Yeah I love music man. I mean it’s a strong possibility that I’ll fuck with somebody that’s trying to do a band or whatever but you know as for me man, I’m tired B. I’m tired than a motherfucker. I just want to get me some rest.

What’s the worst part?
The business part is exhausting man. You gotta look at the whole game like it’s just full of fuckin’ snakes, which it is.

Has that always been something that’s been kind of hard to accept?
Yeah I mean, the business end man. If you’re love for the game turns into a business man, if it’s business over the way that you love what you do, it’s time for you to find something else to do. Because as much as I love music man, I would much rather be the one getting the check. Rather than somebody else getting the fuckin’ check for what I’ve created. My music is super heartfelt, I love what I do, I just love music man. I play all the instruments. I’m just a musically inclined motherfucker.

How often do you just sit around and jam?
Everyday, all night long.

What instrument do you pick up first?
I got a guitar, I got like a hundred fuckin’ guitars. I have an extensive guitar collection. From the late 1950’s to now I got like a hundred fuckin’ guitars. A hundred fuckin’ basses.

What’s your favorite one to play?
I got a 1964 Fender Stratocaster, Sunburst, all original, left handed guitar. Then I got a 1957 Fender Stratocaster right handed strung upside down. I could play upside down too. That’s how I learned how to play. I learned how to hit chords going this way.

So was Jimi Hendrix a big influence?
Yeah, the biggest influence on me in my opinion.

Now what you just said a minute ago about money, do you feel as though you never got your just due in this game? Do you feel like you’ve been slighted for money over the course of your career? A lot of people complain about this stuff, but you’ve been around forever. You signed your first contract before many of these cats.
Yeah I signed my contract when niggas was just happy to get a record deal, so whatever was in the contract, who gave a fuck? I had a record coming out. That’s how I felt about it. But now it’s so much of a fuckin’ business now till it ain’t friendly. It’s such a battle of the wits, it’s like a chess game when you fuckin’ with this music right now. Don’t nobody play fair. You get all these monster fucking companies to merge together and they push the little guy out. Nobodies playing fair. You got the Federal Government the conspiracy against rap music, pushing that shit out. We ain’t never had no piracy problem until now it’s like real big. It’s like a waste of time to even do albums and shit.

Well regarding the money, you’ve never really been the one to tour extensively. Isn’t there money to be made there?
I’m for one feel like that’s just prostitution man.

Performing on stage in front of your fans is prostitution?
Man you just going up there prostituting yourself.

Isn’t that where your money is supposed to come in from though man?
Man my money needs to just come in period. You know, but it ain’t about me, it’s bigger than me. You got a whole generation and generations behind us that’s got in this music game. Some people were smart, some people were stupid. Some people left with nothing, some people left with it all. My main thing right now, what I’m mainly focused on is getting away. You know, I’m gonna leave like Mike. But I ain’t never coming back though. I’m not ever ever coming back. After this last album, I’m finished.

Then where do you see yourself in ten years?
On a farm resting. Fuck this shit man. I’m much more satisfied being away from everything than I am being in the midst of everything going on.

Do you have friends?
Friends? My music is my friend.

You would walk away from that friend?
Yeah I’d walk away from her. She’s had that much of an impact on my life. She’s that devastating now that I look back at this bitch. She’s fucking brutal. I mean people spend their whole fucking life chasing music. I spent my whole life chasing music, trying to find music. If my days weren’t filled with music, real and true enough, I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in, but I also wouldn’t be dealing with being so motherfuckin’ tired. It’s not that I’m just sleepy tired, I’m fucking TIRED man. I’m looking forward to a change. And right now unfortunately music does not offer, you know what? I saw the best concert I ever seen in my life here just recently. Man Phil Collins had the best fucking concert I have seen in my life and I have been to all of them. I think that Dre and Eminem has the best rap show.

Shit, back in the day though, Scarface and the Geto Boys had the best rap show. You guys set the trend of actually having a production. Even if it was low budget you always had something that was entertaining. I think that’s something that’s killing rap. It’s such a live art form, but hardly anybody can pull it off live. You talk about these bands who can make such great shows, but then you got a dude with a CD and a microphone and he can’t make it sound good and can’t make it entertaining.
I seen the MTV Music Awards and hip hop looked awful. I mean, you look at the bands, them bands came out with their fuckin’ gear. They came out with their fuckin’ weapons. The had guitars, amps, drum sets, horns and singers and shit and then we come out grabbing our dicks with 500,000 people on stage.

Well a lot of times rappers think it’s too much for them to even bring turntables or even have a DJ or anything. They don’t make the effort.
Yeah well I disagree. It doesn’t compare. I think Dre and Dre’s influence, he has the best stage show. He knows the importance of putting on a great stage show. It makes people buy records. There’s not an album that Dre, Dre could fart on a record and I’ll go buy it. That’s because I know that this dude is really serious about his craft and there’s not many people I can say that about. If Pink Floyd made another album I’d go buy it. And of course you got Nas and Jay Z, Eminem, they take they shit serious. This is not a game man. To some people it’s a game and to some people it’s a payday but to me man it’s my life. Maybe it something in my life that ain’t right, but I feel music. But I’m also strong enough to know when it’s time to leave this bitch alone. This shit like an addiction. It’s the worst hit of heroin I ever had. This bitch is worse than nicotine. This bitch is worse than alcohol. Music is a bad motherfucker man, it’s an addiction. And you start pimping this bitch and she start bringing you money, you’ll never be able to cut this hoe loose. So to back up and let this shit down easy I’m gonna leave this alone. I’m fuckin’ addicted.

How well did recording War and Peace satiate that addiction?
I did a lot of production on this album. I did more than half of it. Most of it. I had a hand on everything. It was a fix. But in order to satisfy the addiction man, you have to kick the habit. So that’s how I feel man. In order for me to satisfy this addiction, I got to kick the habit.

So is this a 12 step program or…
I’m gonna do one last album man and I think this album is gonna be based on the trials and tribulations and the life of niggas. I’m way back in there now. In my history. I’m like in 1847 now in my family history. Steady finding other shit. Just talking to different older people.

You’re studying your family history?
I’m studying my family history and they are giving me a whole lot of game and inspiration to study everybody else. Just niggas in general. Just what happened to niggas. It’s important that we not let that go unremembered. I think the worst thing you can do to somebody, to the dead, is not remember them. And there’s people that shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get us in the position that we in right now. Not that we in no hell of a fuckin’ position, but we shed a lot of blood man. They hung a lot of niggas from them big ass oak trees in them counties. You ever read that shit about Sam Holt? A cat that I think was in Georgia. This dude got hung in the 1900’s and this lady said that some black dude beat her up or some shit. So they went and grabbed the first nigga they seen. Come to find out the lady couldn’t identify him, but they took his ass, hung him in a tree and burnt his ass.

It’s a sick world.
It’s a sick world dude, and all for what? All for nothin’. Not to be all political and prejudice or nothing, I ain’t none of that shit by no means, but I just feel like America is trying to hide that part of they history so the nigga don’t come back and ask for that 40 Acres and a Mule. There wasn’t no 40 Acres and a Mule. I want to make sure that when it’s time to collect, even if it’s ten generations down the line, I want to start that shit. So at least them motherfuckers will have a better chance than our parents parents parents had. Some say, “Well everything is cool right now, you can go out and get you a job.” Realistically man you can’t go out and get no fuckin’ job because you’re not going to be treated fairly.

Well you say you’re not political and you’re not prejudiced and that’s fine but that’s one of the best things about the Geto Boys was that you weren’t afraid to say things about politics and white America and the world. You can’t get most rappers to say a word about that shit these days and we’re in the middle of one of the biggest scams in our history.
Now you’re feeling me man. It’s a conspiracy man. The video stations and the radio stations would much rather party than enlighten these future generations on what the fuck happened and how not to let this shit happen again man.

Could Face be a politican?
Naw man cuz I’m gangsta for real. If that shit that they did, I would have flew to ‘em. If Bin Laden said he did that shit I’d a caught a plane to him man and I would look him in the eyes and ask him if he did it. And if he would have told me yeah, I would have downed him right there and been prepared to accept any consequences that came to me for handling his ass. I would have killed that motherfucker right in there in front of all his people and been ready to die.

Yeah well…
I wouldn’t give a damn, I’d stank the shit out of him. I’d go in there by myself, hell yeah. Mahfuckin’ Sadaam man, they pushed that man out of his own fuckin’ country. He ain’t did nothing different from what America did. Where’s they punishment at? How do we overturn that? How do we turn that page? How can we indict the federal government? Them people consider niggas not legal US citizens man. You need to get on that internet and read up on nigga history. We still considered non-humans. You know slaves are like property.

Are you talking any politics on War and Peace?
I don’t really remember. Politics is not really my thing. I just know that if niggas don’t get from up under this thin layer of plastic that they got put over our only form of communicating with each other besides a cell phone, we gonna be fucked. After niggas stop going to college, start going to them nightclubs and start wanting to have shit that’s way out of they range and start killing for that shit, then we really is gonna be like the buffalos. Niggas is gonna be extinct. Fuckin’ science experiments and shit. How can you recreate the Negro and shit? Shit is way deeper than me and you sitting in this car. I’m just one person but I’m praying for the whole world to change as far as niggas is concerned and I use the word nigga proudly. Really I do.

I don’t use nigger, I use nigga. Like Pac said, Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished. I ain’t never ignorant.

Would you like to be sometimes? Would it be easier? Would you be less tired?
Hmm. I don’t know. That’s a good fuckin’ question. Would I be less tired if I was ignorant? Yeah I’d probably be less tired but more dead than I already am. The amount of shit that’s going on in the mind of the youth and in the mind of the community man, there’s a lot of shit going on man. And they looking at what’s popular to feed off of and to pattern they life behind. Man, pattern your life behind your history, that way you won’t make that same fucking mistake. A man who doesn’t know his past is destined to repeat it, and that’s my biggest fear. I’ll fight for my kids. I’ll fight for everybody’s fuckin’ kids, just don’t leave me out there by myself. This shit been bred in niggas since, the Willie Lynch shit. The instructions for making a slave. That shit was what, 1712 when that document was written, but dude that shit is applying to right now and for that very fuckin’ installment in our lives, our ancestors lives. We so far behind man, we hate each other. Niggas hate each other. Man, I want to start a movement man. That’ll be the only way that I would stay visible. But if it ain’t the movement that I’m working toward man, and getting my people they motherfuckin’ money, 300 years later with interest. You can spend $200 billion to go to war, put $200 billion up for these niggas man and let us set ourselves up. Go ahead and pay me for my people labor back in the game. Tack some interest on that shit and let us go overseas and buy us an island and have our own government and our own armed forces and our own economy and let us police our gotdamn selves. Everybody else got that shit. Israelis have Israel. Pakistani’s got Pakistan. Mexicans got Mexico. Put us in a situation where we fighting from the bottom. We supposed to be equipped with the same shit but realistically we ain’t equipped with the same shit. I can go to a school district where my son is going to school and compare it to a school where an underprivileged child goes to school and I bet they got different books.

Different books if they even have access to the current books or the technology.
They put computers at my daughters school, but she go to a decent fuckin’ school. But you go to some of these other schools and they ain’t got the tools you need to survive. I mean we so fucking behind, they think it’s a big ass party. And it’s not a big party man. If we’re not careful we gonna be extinct and we gonna disappear. We already in a position where we can barely reproduce. We can’t fuck no more. Shit the AIDS man, my sons kids, they won’t even be able to fuck cuz everybody gonna have AIDS 100 years from now. There’s that generation gone. There’ll be no more niggas left.

But Face, they have pills for that.
Oh yeah, then you turn into a whole new fuckin’ animal. Drugs don’t do nothing but hide the fuckin’ shit. It don’t heal it. Drugs hide pain. Drugs hide situations but they don’t correct them. In my opinion. You know I could be wrong as two left shoes, but that’s my fuckin’ opinion. I got a fuckin’ headache, I take two Advils and they cover the pain but why did I have a headache in the first place? What the fuck was that? I don’t mean to put you through all this shit Matt, but you sat your ass in here so you’re gonna have to deal with it.

No it’s good man. Too many people don’t have shit to say man. It’s like it’s illegal to have an opinion anymore.
I got a fuckin’ opinion man. And my opinion is you know, save the music. Save the children. Let’s get together man and file a class action lawsuit against the government and demand that 40 acres and that mule. And demand that back pay, demand that interest. Get that shit right.

Well back in the earlier days of rap, we’d hear songs about partying but there also was more people who would talk about serious shit.
Not only that but they had great songs and those songs was about love. They made great music, love songs, great dance songs and shit. I love music. Shit. (starts flipping around the radio, stops on Tears for Fears “People are People,” after a quick stop on Majic 102, an old school r&b station). That’s what music is, you can dance to it. (turns radio up full blast and sings “People are People.” Face then turns to a local urban station while they are playing a commercial for the new Def Jam video game). Def Jam is not your friends.

What happened with Def Jam South?
I mean I think that when Kevin Liles and Lyor Cohen had got into whatever it was that they got theyself into they started seeking different situations and my whole hang up with that shit is when they jumped ship they left me to drown. I mean, there should have been priorities. I mean me just being a real ass nigga. If I get into a situation and bring somebody into a situation, I’m gonna make sure I release them out of they situation before I get out of mine. That’s just some real shit right there. That’s the only reason I went there was because of Lyor and when Lyor left I wanted out. Kevin wanted to hold me, and then when Kevin left I’m still over there tied into the system. Luckily LA Reid is a real mahfucker. He said “You know what, I really want to work with you, but if you really want to be free, I’ll let you go.” And I said “I really want to be free.” So he let me go and I love him for that. I’m a free man.

Did you have any freedom there? Were you really running things at Def Jam South?
You know at first, I didn’t have freedom for my first couple of years. Everything I brought to the table they was turning down. You know what the south is today? I brought to the table. From TI to Flip to Banner to Haystak to Trick to a lot of people. What the south is right now is what I had my hands on when I was working at Def Jam and they passed on all that shit. I don’t know what it was. That’s neither here nor there and it’s spilled milk too. Long story short everybody at Def Jam is gone. Them pencil pushin’ motherfuckers wasn’t shit anyway. I’ll tell you how scandalous that motherfucker Kevin is, he was so fucking scandalous he was buying Sound Scans to make it look like he knew what the fuck he was doing. And them motherfuckers snitching on him right now.

I hate that whole system man. That fucking Sound Scam is too easy to corrupt. It fucked up the game in a lot of ways.
Abolish it. I was wondering how these people sell all these records and we ain’t ever even heard of them.

I think that killed the A&R’s ears too because they are not looking for anything but numbers.
That’s it. That’s right.