The H-Town Countdown, No. 3: Scarface's The Diary

Roughly 84,000 rap albums that have been released in Houston since 1989. We're counting down the 25 best of all time every Thursday. Got a problem with the list? Shove it. Just kidding. Friendship. Email it to sheaserrano@gmail.com.

Scarface

The Diary (Asylum, 1994)

scarface diary.jpg
Honesty time: Last week's post, the one with the basketball/rap metaphors, was just a stall.

Mind, it was fun to write, and it generated a fair amount of email responses. The best one we received compared Mike Jones's explosion into fame to Vince Carter's now legendary showing at the NBA All-Star Weekend's 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, saying "everything since then has been a disappointment." We spent the next 15 minutes trying to figure out a point in Carter's career that was the counterpoint to Jones getting punched in the face by Trae. There's nothing. Still, a solid comparison nonetheless.

We also received an email from a freshman at the University of Wisconsin named Yunus Allen Church, easily the best name we've ever heard. There's no way someone named Yunus Church doesn't do something amazing with his life. Just say it to yourself. It sounds like the name of somebody who hunted werewolves in the 1800s. But back to the point.

Last week was a stall tactic because, after a countless amount of time was spent trying to drum him up, word got to us that Scarface was down to talk about his albums that made The Countdown. And when there's a possibility that the greatest rapper Houston has ever seen might soon be dialing your number, you rearrange some shit on your schedule to accommodate the situation. Not to be all blow-jobby or anything, but the man is a legend.

Comparing the front of Face's catalog to the back, a trend emerges: He has managed to grow as an artist without changing as a person, and it's magnified his presence several times over. He was able to successfully switch up his approach without compromising his ideals.

He's basically rap's version of Leonardo DiCaprio. Both men's careers opened with fairly inauspicious beginnings: Face actually started out under the laughably phonetic name Akshen; Leo had small roles in stuff like Roseanne and The New Lassie. Both began rounding into shape with some super-strong work shortly thereafter - Face's official debut, Mr. Scarface is Back, Leo with his roles in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Basketball Diaries and Titanic.

They both had monster peaks: Face with the platinum-selling The Diary; Leo with The Aviator, Blood Diamond, The Departed and Revolutionary Road. Both have/will eventually settle firmly into spots within the "He's Not The Best That's Ever Done It, But It's Not Completely Unreasonable For You To Have Him On Your List Of People That Are" debates. Cripes, even when they're bad (Face with Last of a Dying Breed, Leo with The Beach), it's still pretty interesting.

But alas, the phone never rang. A total waste of a week is what we got. Nevertheless, The Diary is the single greatest solo rap album to ever come out of Houston. In December, we touched on it briefly by saying, "The underlying premise to Scarface's acclaim is that his success is entirely meritocratic. This album is the finest example of that..."

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