How Tiny Desk is Highlighting What Many Should Already Know
Last week According 2 Hip Hop, a website that posts polls on Twitter, released a poll result which had Scarface beating Biggie as the better storytelling MC. The poll itself was small, with Face getting 529 votes and Big getting 359. Although Scarface won, it came across my feed because someone was initially questioning whether the Southern rap pioneer should even be on the list. While Twitter quickly got the individual questioning Scarface’s abilities together, it brought up a debate that Scarface is not in enough. I would like to bring that debate back up by first answering the question.
Scarface is the best MC of all time.
Not the best southern MC but the best MC. Alive. Dead. Active. Inactive. Scarface is the best MC by all metrics.
He excels in every category. Luckily, this week the world will be able to give the MC his flowers as he appears on NPR’s Tiny Desk. It gives fans, old and new, another opportunity to view another example of why Scarface is the best to do it. All of this because again…
Scarface is the best MC of all time.
That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that Bobby Carter, the senior producer of Tiny Desk, tweeted that Scarface’s performance is “The best hip-hop Tiny Desk we’ve ever put out. A new crown holder…” He tweeted that while looking at the then unreleased video.
Tiny Desk, the NPR concert series that debuted in 2008, has become a powerhouse in the industry when it comes to showcasing music from established and new artists. Notable guests on Tiny Desk include Usher, Yo-Yo Ma, Taylor Swift and more. When it comes to Hip-Hop, the platform has featured Cypress Hill, JID, Freddie Gibbs, Chika, T-Pain, Noname, Tobe Nwigwe and, recently, Juvenile. The series has been praised for its ability to highlight the musicality of each guest, continuing along the path of platforms before it like MTV Unplugged. So, if the senior producer says that Scarface has the best Tiny Desk before it even debuts, he’s speaking from the place of someone who has witnessed some compelling performances.
Scarface didn’t disappoint, rocking along Mike Dean playing the keys while he strummed a guitar on “Mary Jane.” The performance not only showcased his lyrical ability but also the amount of effort he puts into the creation of the music. As the two run through a small portion of Face’s catalog, and Face tells stories about the creation of songs like “I Seen A Man Die,” everyone watching can see how much feeling is put into his music.
At one point early in the performance he shivers as the band plays and exclaims, “Music has a pocket, and it hits people. It hits everybody and makes them emotional because it is so f&$^ing great! I take this so serious and I think that’s why I’m still able to make music. I’m really, really serious about it.”
For the last few decades Brad ‘Scarface’ Jordan has been creating music that hits everyone, covering topics from birth to death. He has released 11 solo albums and seven studio albums with the Geto Boys. If you’re looking for a commercial album, he’s got The Fix. If you’re looking for classic albums he’s got The Diary, The Fix, and We Can’t Be Stopped. If you’re looking for radio play singles he’s got “Let Me Roll,” “Sex Faces,” “Guess Who’s Back,” and “Smile.” Looking for a song about God? His relationship with religion runs throughout his catalog but songs like “Someday” could easily be on a gospel album. Weed? He has “Mary Jane,” a song that may have come across as controversial years ago but now, with the changing attitudes on marijuana, is a prophetic and accurate critique of the government. Looking for something introspective? That is almost his entire catalog but “I Seen A Man Die,” “A Minute to Pray A Second to Die” and “ My Block.” He is a compelling storyteller and musician. He also released one of my favorite songs “Sorry 4 What” (This means nothing to you, but I always take advantage of any opportunity to let people know about this song and…here we are).
It’s almost cliché to say “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper” but with Scarface, it’s true. Jay-Z, Nas, Beanie Sigel, 2 Chainz, Killer Mike, and others have given the MC high praise. Face was even able to get Nas and Jay to be on his album, The Fix, at the height of their feud, a move that had Face playing somewhat of a peacekeeper between the two. So even while feuding for the “King of New York” crown, the now friendly MCs put the beef aside just to be on a Face album. (Kinda…Face has spoken about it in detail on more than one podcast, so go look it up.)
He DJs, produces, plays the guitar, sings, raps, and can still put on a fantastic performance. And even with his over thirty years in music, Scarface doesn’t appear to let acclaim get to him. He doesn’t care about being on a list, occasionally records a podcast alongside his group member (and another MC that doesn’t receive his proper credit) Willie D called Geto Boys Reloaded, and he plays golf.
2022, The Astros Foundation held a roast for Scarface. The private event was attended by several stars celebrating the MC’s 52nd year of life. While the focus was honoring Jordan, with Joe Torry, J Prince, Slim Thug, Willie D, Bun B and D-Reck being some of the individuals who stepped up to say words about the MC, at one point Scarface picked up a guitar and started leading the band through his extensive catalog. He spoke of singing on The Fix, how much classic rock and blues influenced his musical taste, all while going through hit after hit. As great as it was, it didn’t last long. After the cheers rose in volume and people began yelling out songs for him to play, he responded by laughingly yelling “I’m not a got damn jukebox. You’re going to get what I want to play and then I’m going to sit down.”
And then that is exactly what he did. The greatest MC of all time sat down surrounded by a crowd of family, friends, and well-wishers sending him birthday praises. As I took the elevator out of the stadium, a couple drunkenly leaned into each other talking about what they had just seen. What stuck with me was the woman’s regret.
“Too bad everybody is not going to see this,” she exclaimed as the elevator doors opened and they walked out into the night. “I didn’t even know he played the guitar.”
Thankfully, this week, everyone got the opportunity to see him at work. Thanks to Tiny Desk the world will, once again, get to see the best MC of all time.