On this day, October 18, in hip-hop history…
1994: By the time that the early 1990s rolled around, Brad Jordan A.K.A. Scarface had already established himself as the South’s greatest lyricist. As a member of the seminal Geto Boys, Scarface had become renowned for his gritty, gangster storytelling and textured lyricism and was well on his way to becoming a true legend in the rap game. He took a step further into hip-hop canonization with the release of his epic magnum opus, The Diary, on October 18, 1994.
The Diary is easily one of hip-hop’s greatest album; it’s lofty reputation as an operatic masterpiece built from blood and dirt has only grown in the 19 years since it’s release. Scarface perfected his craft as a lyricist on the album, telling tightly-wound and perfectly crafted crime narratives that leaves the audience shivering at every word. This is an album that is not for the weak of heart as Face spends the majority of the album obsessing over death, paranoia and murder.
Despite clocking in at a relatively brisk 43-minutes, audiences found brilliance around every corner on the album. “I Seen A Man Die” is a somber, gangster ballad that is a thoughtful treatise on the finality of death while “No Tears” and “The White Sheet” are harrowing yet thrillingly nihilistic looks into the mind of a gangster. Fellow pied piper of lyrical gangsterism Ice Cube helps out on “Hand Of The Dead Boy” to discuss the media’s obsession with blaming rappers for real violence in the streets.
As commercially successful as it was critically acclaimed, The Diary would go on to become certified platinum by the RIAA in December 1994. It would also go on to earn an ever rare feat as it was awarded the coveted XXL by our publication in December 2007 becoming one of the only 22 albums to receive that rating in hip-hop’s 40-year existence. More than commercial markers and critical accolades, the album is a true classic to the fans who regard Scarface as one of the greatest to ever do it.