Scarface Solo Albums, Ranked
Is there any rapper with a discography as strong as Scarface's collection?
Since his solo debut in 1991, the Houston rap legend has consistently delivered his brand of street wisdom which often tangled with his vivid musings on death, spirituality and ultimately, his humanity.
Take a closer look at his discography, and you'll come away with one inescapable conclusion—Face doesn't have any bad albums. While some albums were better than others, you can make a case for every single one of his nine solo efforts, which usually always made it into year-end best discussions in whatever year they were released.
He has three widely agreed upon classics—his 1991 grimy, dark solo debut, Mr. Scarface Is Back, which is widely considered one of the best rap debuts ever; his third solo endeavor, 1995's gritty, politically-charged The Diary; and his 2002 album, The Fix, which is often in contention with The Diary as his best album ever.
"I think was deeper and more rooted in my community than I was in the rap game," he said to XXL of his time making The Diary. "You know what I mean? I wanted to make music for my people that I grew up with in my neighborhood. That’s kind of the long and the short of that whole Diary album."
He has at least one other album that's a debatable classic, 1997's The Untouchable. That's four albums that could potentially be considered hip-hop classics—that's half of his entire solo discography. When you think about his masterpieces with Geto Boys on We Can't Be Stopped and The Resurrection, you'd be hard pressed to find any other rapper with that kind of track record.
In between his classic solo spurts, Face was still releasing incredibly good projects. Projects that were considered to among the best rap releases the year they dropped. Projects that further defined and cemented his legacy. Emeritus, Made, The Last of a Dying Breed, and his most recent release, 2015's Deeply Rooted, are all fantastic albums, with solid production, mostly courtesy of longtime collaborators—Mike Dean, N.O. Joe, and Face himself (he plays guitar). Add his soulful, pounding production to his above-average lyricism, incredibly detailed storytelling, and clear-eyed focus on staying in his musical lane, and it's clearer why each of Face's releases illustrates why he's so great.
"You know what? First, my raps start with topics. If I’m going to write a rhyme, if I seem like, “Damn, that motherfucker that been around me looks like a God damn, evil-ass devil-man,” I’ll start researching humans and satanic shit, and I’ll jot down ideas," he told late rapper, Sean Price, of his writing process back for HipHopDX. "And this like weeks and months before I even pick a beat. When the beat come, I already read and researched my shit. Secondly, when I know what I’m going to say, and I hear a beat, and now I'm coming up with rhyme schemes. Rhyme patterns. The first three or four words are the most important part of the song, to me."
See, here's the thing about Scarface—he doesn't care about trends. And you can hear it in his music. He stays true to what works for him, producing blues-drenched music anchored by his unique ability to verbalize his life experiences in a way that relates to everyone—whether their struggling with oppressive systems, wrestling with religion and spirituality, battling with mental illness or wallowing in thoughts of death or not.
"Religion is only as good as the person who believes in it, okay? Remember that," he told DX in 2010.
Face was vulnerable on wax before it was a thing. He was emotive, spilling his guts out, exploring his fears through his rhymes for the world to see way before it became profitable. And he was in touch with the war waged on the black community, and its side-effects, long before Ferguson, even before Rodney King. Face has never been on trend. He's set them—even though he's remained humble about it.
"I pay attention to dope artists," he told Vice in 2012. "Everything run of the mill, basic sounding artists, they’re like recycled fucking newspapers. They come every second. So when you hear something really special, then you gotta pay attention. My definition of “really special” is somebody who don’t sound like nobody else, or rap about the same shit that this guy is rapping about."
All of this leads to one broad conclusion about what makes Face so great–he isn't afraid to lay out his humanity on wax.
Ask JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, Bun B, Phonte, Killer Mike, Nas, Rick Ross, or virtually any of your favorite rappers, from any coast or era for that matter, who their favorite rapper is, and Scarface will be right there in the discussion. He's a quiet influencer, mostly because he's never been ashamed or afraid to showcase the sometimes scary depths of his mind and soul.
Although it was challenging— and even debatable— we've ranked Face's solo albums from best to worst. The list doesn't include any of his group offerings, nothing from The Geto Boys or his mid-aughts group, The Product. We've also left off Balls & My Word, because Face had no input on the project, which was compiled of left-over songs from various sessions, and was released solely by J. Prince when Face went to Def Jam South to serve as president. Both of the My Homies compilations are absent too since those are exactly what the title suggests— a chance for Face to let his friends shine, and they aren't actually solo projects.
From best to worst—these are Scarface's albums, ranked.