Scarface Breaks Down His 25 Most Essential Songs

Scarface "I Seen A Man Die" (1994)

Producer: Scarface & Mike Dean
Album: The Diary
Label: Rap-A-Lot Records

Scarface: “This was my getting high days. I was so high and I made this beat in the studio. I don’t know how the credits read, but I had originally started that song off, Mike Dean added the organs and the worms, and Joe Bido took the drums out and put his drums in. But it was an original for me and Mike Dean.

“I rode around for weeks and weeks listening to that because I couldn’t think of anything to put with the beat. I had some leftover pain pills from when I broke my fist. One night, I took a painkiller, drank a 40 ounce of Miller Light, and I smoked a joint and I started writing. I was so fucking high, I remember saying, ‘Lord if you let me come down off this high I won’t do this shit no more.’ I laid there and wrote that record. I didn’t know what I wrote until the next day when I laid it.

“The next day in the studio, I smoked a joint and cut the lights off. It was cold as fuck in there and it smelt like good ass chronic weed in the vocal booth. It was a big ass vocal booth too and it was dark. I had the light on with the words and I was so fucking high. I rapped the verses. I played it back after I was done. But I was still high so I was like, ‘I don’t know, maybe I must be high, but this is some groundbreaking shit.’

 

One night, I took a painkiller, drank a 40 ounce of Miller Light, and I smoked a joint and I started writing. I was so high, I remember saying, ‘Lord if you let me come down off this high I won’t do this no more.’ I laid there and wrote that record. I didn’t know what I wrote until the next day when I laid it.

 

“I listened to it again a couple of days later when I wasn’t so high and it still sounded the same. I knew right then, when these people get a hold of this reality it’s going to be something special. And it was. It changed the face of what people were doing in rap because everyone was talking about how dope of an MC they were, but when reality strikes and changes things over night, and you talk about it. You’re like, ‘Wow I never knew these types of emotions or feelings existed audio wise. I didn’t know that people could take that thought and put that thought into words.’

“It was so special to me and people accepted it like it was their own. ‘My Mind Playing Tricks’ was cool but I think that the ‘I Seen a Man Die’ record broke me in New York. That fucking record touched everything. It wasn’t as big as ‘My Mind Playing Tricks on Me’ and it probably wasn’t as big as the ‘Smile’ but it changed the dynamics of people being able to use their voice as an instrument in rap. Motherfuckers were just monotone. You know what the next song is gonna be cause it isn’t gonna be any different.

“I’ve seen men die. I seen people decapitated from auto accidents. I see fucking cars on the freeway, mashed, with bodies in them, arms hanging out the window. I seen babies in pillow cases, dude sitting in the car on fire, dead. All kind of shit.

“I seen people with their tongues cut out through their throats—Columbian Neckties. Where I grew up, I grew up next to some apartments with a lot of Colombian and Mexican drug dealers. This was back in the late ‘70s early ‘80s and those motherfuckers were out here killing. The Vietnamese people that were just coming over from Vietnam to the United States, them motherfuckers were going to war.

 

We were like 7-years-old and we were at this convenience store. This guy walked in and robbed them and he got shot with a shotgun and died while we were in the store. We stayed in the back. We were kids but we knew he was dead.

 

“We were like 7-years-old and we were at this convenience store. This guy walked in and robbed them and he got shot with a fucking shotgun and died while we were in the store. We stayed in the back. We were kids but we knew he was dead. Then, me, my brother, and some friends went to a concert at AstroWorld and we seen some Mexican’s outside. I was like, ‘Man let’s get out of here I see that motherfucker’s gun.’ So we got out of there and the next morning that store clerk was dead.

“You could easily blame [my depression and dark thoughts] on what I saw as a kid but at the end of the day, you see it. If it wasn’t meant for you to see, you wouldn’t see it. Once you’re able to digest death, you can start living your life. I think being intrigued or amused by death, once you taste it and see it and see that it is permanent, you start embracing life and being able to live.”

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