Scarface’s ‘The World Is Yours’ Turns 30: A Look Back

The legendary Houston rapper’s sophomore solo album is simply a reminder of how he’s one of hip-hop’s greatest storytellers.

Regarding discographies, Scarface may have one of the best in hip-hop history.

Between his work with the Geto Boys and his solo catalog, the Houston rap legend was formidable with the albums he was a part of putting out. Part of the reason, though, that he became one of the South’s first formidable emcees had much to do with his lyricism and ability to relay the struggles he faced in the 5th Ward.

Thirty years ago today (August 17), Face dropped his sophomore solo studio LP, The World Is Yours. And while it may not have been as critically acclaimed as his debut, 1991’s Mr. Scarface Is Back, it did present a lot of growth and Facemob’s trademark authenticity – an attribute he would carry for his entire musical career.

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Rapper Scarface performs onstage during "The Legends of Hip-Hop" concert in 2018.

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Back in ‘93, TWY came just months after the Geto Boys dropped their fourth album, Till Death Do Us Part, which was a transition of sorts as Willie D had temporarily departed a year earlier to pursue a solo career, clearing the way for Big Mike’s debut with the Texas group. Still, Scarface played a major role in the project, boasting singles like "Six Feet Deep" and "Straight Gangstaism," and helped continue the Geto Boys’ legacy as formidable southern rap players.

The World Is Yours sees Face return to the effective elements from his debut and build upon them. It’s perhaps his most personal solo effort on wax, with much of the poignant lyricism backed up by laid-back instrumentals that often featured G-Funk synths (like on “How I Feel Ya” and “You Don’t Hear Me Doe”), atmospheric keys, and consistent hi-hats and 808s from frequent collaborator N.O. Joe and Mike Dean.

The album’s first single, “Let Me Roll,” is self-produced by Face and describes “just another day in the heart of S.A.” During a 2013 interview with Complex, Scarface noted that the Jay Prince-featured track was his “smoking song,” which isn’t surprising considering its lyrics about lighting up a green-filled Swisher over the slow, funky vibes the instrumentals give off. The track also has him describing in detail a typical day in H-Town.

Similar to Geto Boys’ 1991’s breakout single “Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” Scarface often returns to rapping about his struggles with mental health, which are exemplified on tracks like “The Wall,” where he describes a downward spiral brought on by self-loathing, anger, and shame, and the attempts to navigate through it with the aid of alcohol and other drugs.

Themes of using violence to deal with this anxiety are also heavily present throughout The World Is Yours. On “Comin’ Agg” and its effective sequel “Still the Aggin,” Face goes all out and presents himself as an individual tired of being the easygoing and occasional schoolyard scuffling type.

Ain't no half-steppin, I'm comin at you rough-like,” he raps in “Comin’ Agg’s” second verse. “Shootin to kill 'cause back in school I had enough fights / To never wanna put my knuckles up against a n***a's head / So you can sling 'em all you want, but m****rf****r I be slingin lead.”

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On “Now I Feel Ya,” the LP’s second single, Scarface takes more of a reflective approach as he details the struggles of his upbringing, his attempts at being an underdeveloped father, and the overall strife of trying to survive as an early-20s Black man in the 5th Ward. Toward the end of the nearly seven-and-a-half-minute track, Face relays his anger toward law enforcement, which he says “shot my long time partner Rudy in cold blood” under the guise that he was dealing drugs.

Sadly, the tragic theme of the third verse is very much reflective of modern-day police relations with the Black public in America. On “Dying With Your Boots On,” this horrific theme plays itself out again as Face raps in the first verse: “These m****rf****n cops be plantin s**t on these n****s / Simply because these n****s got bank accounts that's bigger / I just can't get no peace from you m****rf****n rollers / Every time I pull my Benz-o out, you pull me over.”

Commercially, The World Is Yours did very well. It broke into the Billboard 200 Top 10 and peaked at number 1 on the R&B/hip-hop album chart. “Let Me Roll” also became a Hot 100 hit the same year the Rap-A-Lot Records LP was released. The project was also certified Gold by the RIAA in October of 1993.

Thirty years later, The World Is Yours proves to be as timeless as the day it was released. It exemplifies Scarface’s legendary ability to easily communicate while showcasing the lyrical prowess as one of the greatest ever to do it. In celebration of Hip-Hop 50 and southern rap, give it a spin today.

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