Scarface – “My Block” b/w “Guess Who’s Back”

Released: 4.30.02

Peak: #46 [Hip-Hop/ R&B Songs]

Cred where due–Scarface was obsessing over the fucked-uppedness of his chosen profession (or, you know, the profession that chose him, whatever) back when NWA were whooping it up like capitalist revolutionaries. Face’s verse on “My Mind Playing Tricks on Me” alone counteracts a dozen tracks of simple-minded gangsta glorification, and “I could never see a man cry/ Till I saw a man die” succinctly sums up the onetime Geto Boy’s inability to fully commit to his genre’s slipshod nihilism.

But by 2002, the g’s inner turmoil was a bigger hip-hop cliché than the glories of the overgrown female ass. With The Fix’s emphasis on social realism, the mastermind of ghetto paranoia discovered strength in solidarity brings. The stats tell me that “Guess Who’s Back,” an early Kanye track that has Scarface trading better-than-average dope-slinging tips with Jay and Beanie, was the bigger hit (though I don’t remember it that way), but “My Block,” with Face’s haunted baritone lending gravity to his sharp details (from warnings against neighborhood gossip Miss Gladys to the righteous “fuck a Iroc”) was the deeper cut. And the bitd nickname he admits to, Creepy, stomps all over his chosen nom de rime. I mean, seriously, fuck that movie.

“My Block” wouldn’t have resonated outside the ghetto without that soulful piano lick, and the nervous snare fill the follows, as tricked out by the Hitmen’s Nasheim Myrick. The sample’s from Roberta Flack’s remarkably titled “Be Real Black For Me,” which just happens to tie in with Scarface’s discovery that home life is where reality lies. Maybe “It’s like the world don’t exist” is more cool with the insularity of hood life than a guy who got out should be allowed. But as hip-hop clichés go, “My niggaz need me” will always trump “me against the world.”

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