After more than two decades of rhyming about his life, Scarface is finally an open book.
On Tuesday (April 21), the legendary MC released his 223-page memoir, Diary of a Madman, which delves into his Geto Boys beginnings, depression, drugs and life on the streets of Houston.
In honor of the hardcover hip hop lit — written with Benjamin Meadows-Ingram — the storied rapper, born Brad Jordan, held court in Brooklyn’s Powerhouse Arena bookstore last night (April 22) to chat with music journalist Elliott Wilson about the new book, his career and life. The conversation was easy-flowing yet candid, with Face Mob often revealing a mouth full of metal — braces, not grills — and joking with an audience of about 50 people.
BET.com was in the building for the discussion, which preceded a book signing and photo ops with Scarface. Here are eight takeaways from the interview.
1. Music is in his bloodline.
Scarface’s mother and grandmother were both singers, his grandfather was a self-taught guitarist and his cousin is reggae singer Johnny Nash. “I’m a bred musician — this is generational,” said Scarface. “For me to just limit myself to rapping is a discredit to my bloodline. I’m a musician in real life. I can play anything.”
2. Before rap, Scarface loved rock.
Face Mob named several rock acts as his musical influences, including AC/DC, Moxy, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix. He says as a kid he used to imitate KISS in his mirror, covering his face in Noxzema to mimic the heavy metal band’s face paint.
3. But he prefers getting high to Bob Marley.
“Have you ever listened to Bob Marley stoned?” he asked the audience. “That’s the best s**t I’ve ever heard in my life.”
4. Scarface stopped smoking weed after an intense high in Denver.
Face discovered why they call the Colorado capital The Mile High City after rolling up to unwind after a performance there. “By the sixth puff, I don’t even remember what happened before,” he says with a laugh. “And then the paranoia kicks in. I don’t even want to smoke again because I don’t want to go back to being that guy.”
5. He doesn’t consider himself one of the greats.
In Diary of a Madman, Scarface lists Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Rakim and Chuck D as his Mount Rushmore rappers. But he insists there are too many greats to narrow down — and he’s not worthy of the list. “There are so many other rappers that’s way better than me,” Face admits. “I’m in agreement with that. I don’t want to be considered one of the greatest rappers of all time.”
6. He thinks Kanye is lyrically one of the best MCs spitting today.
“Kanye is the king of the punchline right now,” Scarface said of Yeezy, who laced three beats on his 2002 classic The Fix.
7. He’s a procrastinator just like the rest of us.
Scarface knows when DJ Khaled wants him to get on a track. He says the posse cut king will simply text, “Yo, ’Face,” and he’ll reply, “Send the record.” But then he’ll sit on it until the last possible moment, as he did with a Game record called “When Is the Last Time You Seen Tupac?.” After putting off recording his verse for more than a year, he finally submitted a verse when the Cali rapper informed him that the tracks were going to mixing. “It’s immediate,” he says of his last-minute recording. “Once it’s time to do a record, it’s right there.”
8. Diary of a Madman co-author Benjamin Meadows-Ingram dug deep.
“I’m proud of it because he really released those demons that needed to be out of my life for good,” the Houston rapper said of his biographer. “He dragged that out.”
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(Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images for UrbanDaddy)