Scarface Is Out Of Jail, Performs At Key Club Tomorrow: Excerpts From His Last Interview
Scarface plays the Key Club tomorrow night. This is big news, considering most folks didn't even know that the greatest of all southern rappers was out of the pen. In October 2010 he began a term at Montgomery County Jail in Alabama over numerous unresolved child support cases. (There is also apparently another "federal" case about which little is known.) The weirdest thing is that nobody even realized he was gone until February.
His release in mid-August was also quiet -- although our sister blog Houston Press had the scoop. An interview request to 'Face's management last week came to nothing, so it's fair to say that still no one has any idea what's going on with one of the most elusive men in hip-hop.
Some insight into his psyche can be gleaned, however, from the interview I did with him in July of 2010 for my book Dirty South: OutKast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop. It turned out, I believe, to be the last substantial interview he did before he went in. (If that's wrong, please correct me in the comments section.) A chilling snippet about his time in a Houston mental health hospital can be heard on the video above, and more of our conversation can be found in the below excerpt from my book, about 'Face and the Geto Boys, which was originally published on another of our sister music blogs, the Village Voice's Sound of the City.
Southern rap's gangsta roots can be traced to one group: Geto Boys. There's nary a thug wannabe who didn't learn something from these Houston trailblazers, who helped put hardcore hip-hop on the map. They were every bit as tough as gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A and Ice-T -- the media's faces for late eighties gangland menace -- and even more twisted.
The group was masterminded by a luxury-used-car salesman named J. Prince. Born James Smith, Prince has also founded a condom company, managed champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., and donated millions to various local causes. But rap will be his legacy, and he possesses impeccable taste when it comes to the discipline, having fostered a who's who of Texas spitters, including Pimp C, Bun B, Trae, Z-Ro, Big Mello, Lil' Flip, and Devin the Dude. Though he hasn't published many runaway bestsellers, he's hasn't had many duds, either, and his Rap-A-Lot Records is hip-hop's longest-running independent imprint.
Some fear Prince, but many sing his eternal praises. Count former Rap-A-Lot artist Ganksta N-I-P among the latter, he a pioneer of the horrorcore rap subgenre that would influence the Geto Boys. One night in 1991 Prince saw him win a rap contest at a South Park spot called Club Infinity, and after the performance asked him to come into the men's room for an audition. Joining them in the quieter, cramped space, N-I-P says, were some twenty men, "bodyguards and highly ranking Rap-A-Lot officials," he remembers.
N-I-P gave an impassioned performance, "breaking mirrors, hitting up against the wall," and Prince was impressed. They met the next morning in the club's parking lot, where Prince handed him a $20,000 check and signed him to a three-album deal. "I love him to this day," N-I-P says. "If I needed a car, he provided it. If I needed money, he provided it."