Throwback Tracks: Guess Who's Back - Scarface (feat. Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel)
Think back to 2002, when Kanye West was still "only a producer". West was coming off a huge success as a producer, helping Jay-Z with arguably his magnum-opus, The Blueprint, which released in September 2001. As a producer, he was in a great position, with artists all over the industry not only respecting him, but asking him to produce for them.
In 2002, he produced a beat for hip-hop legend, Scarface. West samples the drums from Dr. Dre's hit "Xxplosive" from 2001, and takes the main underlayer of the beat from The Originals' 1977 track, "Sunrise". This beat is so aggressive, one of the beats that make you want to start freestyling. You can't really tell at first listen, but Kanye West is actually the voice on the hook of this track.
You can tell that Jigga is in his prime on this track, he has the first verse and when the track begins, you hear his signature cough while he talks (as he is assumedly in the booth).
The track is about selling drugs, and Jay uses countless references to drugs, including, "Don't make me have to relapse on these hoes" and "I'm on the block like I'm eight feet tall". Jay-Z shows off on this track, especially the way he ends it, saying, "That's why the streets embrace me dawg, I'm so cool!" The verse is flawless in my opinion, one of his best from this era.
Scarface comes in with a perfectly militant flow, and has his drug references as well. The album that this track was released on is called The Fix, which is a clever drug reference within itself. During his verse, he says "Give niggas a break, nah; you know how the game go, fuck you think I slang for? To go against the grain, no" which is clearly a drug reference. When you hear this line, however, you may recognize it as a flow/line that Kanye West would later pay homage to during his guest verse on Jay-Z's "Run This Town" when he said "Fuck you think I rap for? To push a fuckin' RAV 4?".
Scarface had also become the President of Def Jam South during the release of The Fix, and he shut down any criticism that may have been going on within the label about him continuing to rap with a well placed threat, within yet another drug reference "And make fo' sho' I get to work mines, a car at a time. We go to war and you ain't making a dime."
Two legends are clearly spitting on this track, but Beans still hold his own with his verse, even though it is much shorter than the previous two. His drug references are much more blatant, howevr it doesn't make them any less hard.
He says, "Young'n never pump fake, and you'll get past the blitz. And keep ya whole hood on flip, like old box-spring, pissy mattress shit" which is him telling a new dealer to never let up and he'll get past the police, while using football terms. The second half of those bars mean to continue to make money in the neighborhood, or to "flip" the drugs, like you would flip a soiled mattress.
I'm not sure why this track didn't release as a single, but I know for a fact that if it did, it would've at least gone gold. All three verses were basically perfect, the beat was ridiculous, and you had three stars, two being hip-hop royalty, on the same track trading bars. This is one of the best tracks of the early '00s, hands down.