Nino Moschella: The Fix

Nino Moschella: The Fix

Before B.I.G., Nas, and Jay-Z left their indelible imprint on gangsta rap, Scarface had already perfected the form, both as the driving force behind the Geto Boys and as a solo artist. So when Def Jam, hip-hop's most successful label, decided to open a southern division, it fittingly hired Scarface to head it. The rapper paid back his salary many times over by signing Ludacris, and he further validates the label's faith with The Fix, one of the most emotionally wrenching gangsta-rap albums ever made. Scarface has long used the particulars of the street game to explore larger issues of trust, faith, friendship, and mortality. His deep baritone quaking with emotion, he wrestles unforgettably with his demons on The Fix, backed by soul-drenched production that raises the emotional ante to nearly unbearable heights. Scarface became a rap legend without really crossing over to the mainstream, and The Fix contains a handful of tracks seemingly designed to snag that elusive audience--most notably the hit "On My Block," a simultaneously defiant and melancholy celebration of community. But even when he's bucking for radio play, Scarface never compromises his lyrics or his sometimes heavy-handed message. The pairing of The Neptunes with R&B singer Kelly Price on "Someday," for example, might initially seem like a blatant play for crossover success, but there's nothing Total Request Live-friendly about the song's grim, searching meditation on faith and redemption. The Fix sounds like a gangsta-rap album one track and a gospel record the next, a combination few other rappers can pull off this skillfully. For all of Scarface's crossover ambitions, he seems intent on making the move on his own terms.

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