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Brad Jordan (a.k.a. Scarface) is to rap what a pair of black Chuck’s are to the shoe game: vintage. Converse can change the colors, fabrics and patterns of the Chuck Taylor’s, but you’re buying them as much for the brand as you are the superficial adjustments. To reinvent your product is necessary whether dealing with shoes or music, but to keep that familiarity with your fan base is always refreshing and almost personal for the consumer; especially in the latter where so many are quick to sellout for the almighty dollar.

Not Mr. Scarface though whose latest album, MADE, is just what the doctor prescribed for those seeking refuge from the endless stream of garbage polluting our airwaves in a familiar “‘Face” doing things his familiar way.

Scarface takes a page from his Diary and Untouchable albums by beginning MADE with an instrumental that listeners will soon discover is identical twins with the album’s outro, vintage Scarface. After a minute-plus of this instrumental, the transition into “Never”, the album’s first single, is carried out beautifully. Mr. Face follows a simple format he perfected with “My Block” on his last album (The Fix), by focusing his song on a word or place – in this case “never” – brilliantly creating a song out of essentially everything he applies the word “never” to. “Never say never is what they tell me all the time / ‘Cause never means it forever but its never crossed my mind”. The first side of the album is top heavy with singles that were pre-released (or leaked via internet) before MADE hit stores. So all you ‘Face fanatics will hear a lot of songs you’ve probably been listening to for a couple months now as MADE starts off with “Never”, “Big Dogg Status” and “Girl U Know” consecutively, but all are still as auditorily pleasing as they were upon first listen.

Evidence of Scarface’s growth as an artist is also spotted on MADE’s opening side, as he dissects relationship woes with stinging cynicism on tracks like “Go” and the previously mentioned “Girl U Know”. Such a subject would seem a stretch for a man who brought us albums like My Balls & My Word, but Scarface manages to pull both off with ease.

However it is the second half of the album is what will have your CD player stuck on loop. A powerful song like “Boy Meets Girl” requires multiple spins simply to comprehend the depth of story Mr. Face is telling, while the lyrical flurries of “bring that s**t back!” moments he unleashes on “Who Do You Believe In” will clock your rewind button overtime: “Outside I see the cop cars flashin’ they lights / Raindrops symbolizes God savin’ a life / The sun shinin’ so they say the devil beatin’ his wife / The body bloody under the sheets is waitin’ for Christ”.

“Git Out My Face” deserves mention for its original take on a tired subject. Scarface enlists opera singers and violins to turn an otherwise generic song into a good one, but it still seems out of place sandwiched between an otherwise emotional and subdued group of songs.

The album’s final song, “The Suicide Note”, is the essence of Scarface at his very best. Scarface reverts to his trademark nightmarish narratives, evoking the emotions of a friend’s suicide through an eerily beautiful song. Scarface’s guttural flow meshes perfectly with the song’s dreamlike beat and haunting chorus, while graphically painting pictures of for a horror movie. A perfect way to put the bow on this superbly packaged album.

When you have three platinum records and four gold (like Mr. Scarface), it is impossible to determine one album as the clear-cut best. It’s like judging apples and oranges, if the apples and oranges are all timeless records that get better with every listen. For this reason MADE is not Scarface’s best album ever. At the same time MADE is a carefully crafted record that definitely deserves immediate “album of the year” consideration. Scarface pays homage to his classic records of the past with subtle callbacks and following his self-made blueprint to gangster rap, while figuring in who he is and what he’s about today seamlessly.

If you call yourself a rap fan I haven’t told you anything new and you’ve probably been slumping MADE in your CD player for a little over a week now. If not you’re welcome for the heads up, now go put MADE on your list for Santa A.S.A.P.

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Made Music