The artist that made Scarface want to rap
(Credit: Alamy)

Old School Archives

The artist that made Scarface want to rap

Houston rap collective The Geto Boys were the original pioneers of Southern rap in the US, especially concerning Houston. Comprised of Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill, The Geto Boys’ origins are rooted firmly in the late-1980s and are known, to this day, as one of the first mainstream hip-hop groups from the South.

With the trio’s emergence, hip-hop finally gained a new respect for the South after its long struggle. Now more than ever, rappers from what are colloquially known as ‘The Dixies’ are being uplifted and empowered. However, during hip-hop’s formative years, the region’s music was a non-factor, especially in the eyes of New Yorkers.

Their frontman, Scarface (Brad Jordan), went on to become one of the most prominent Southern hip-hop artists in the US and achieved a great deal of commercial success along the way. His 2002 album, The Fix, debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and was met with critical acclaim. The project even boasted some highly renowned guest verses, including the likes of Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel. Furthermore, the body of work featured productions from the beatmakers such as Kanye West and The Neptunes.

As a pioneer of Southern rap, Scarface has had a long and compelling career full of twists and turns that have seen him grow from a small Texan emcee to a household name. As such, in 2020, Pitchforrk sat down with Jordan to learn more about him, his childhood musical influences and where he sees himself in the context of contemporary hip-hop.

When asked why his music was so sexually explicit when he first arose on the scene, Jordan attributed it to the TV program American Bandstand, stating, “When I was five, American Bandstand had a lot of good artists on there, man. That’s when I really started falling in love with the jams, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Patti LaBelle, Bootsy Collins, and Parliament. Bob Welch had that song ‘Ebony Eyes,’ [sings] ‘Your eyes got me dreamin’.’ I knew all the words to it. I wrote my own version to it, [sings] ‘If I could hold you close to my penis.’”

He continued, “We were some badass muthafuckin’ kids, man. What would I even know about penis at that age? Stop it. Hustler magazine came out in the mid-’70s, and my uncle had them in his room, and that was the first time I saw a real, live vagina. Those types of magazines provoke that type of thought, and it snuck into the shit I was trying to write. All my family are musicians. Everybody was writing shit down, so I wanted to write shit down, too.”

While in conversation about his material and the early days of his career, Jordan was asked who really inspired him to mic up the mic and choose hip-hop, to which he replied, “A Tribe Called Quest really made me want to rap. It was already cool to talk about hustling, but it was better to talk about hustling skillfully. Along with Tribe, MC Breed, Richie Rich, MC Eiht, and Spice 1 were the guys that helped really mould that vibe for us. They talked about the streets like nobody had ever talked about them before!”

Jordan admitted that it was primarily the New York collective A Tribe Called Quest that made him want to rap. You can listen to the group in the video below.