Pitching the Idea:

Carl Chery: I picked the idea myself. Randomly, it always happens. I’m sitting at my desk and all of sudden I’m thinking about the whole year, what’s coming up, and I think about The Fix and I realize [it’s been 10 years] since its release. The Untouchable was released in ’97 so that’s been out for 15 years. So I started researching, ‘cause I felt like a Geto Boyz album was celebrating a 20-year anniversary, but I was off by one year. And then I figured out that M.A.D.E. has been out for five years. So I pitched it like, “Yo, we can do 15, 10, 5 for Scarface.” They agreed to it.

Scarface as an Interviewee:

I interviewed Scarface the first time for Scratch Magazine. It was about him being a producer. ‘Cause a lot of people don’t realize that Scarface is a producer. I remember being on the phone with him and he was going off on tangents, but he very interesting at the same time. I remember him playing the piano for me and singing the intro of The Fix on the phone. That’s when I realized it was he singing on the intro. You don’t expect Scarface to sing the intro, so you don’t think it’s him, you think it’s an obscure singer that wasn’t credited or you think that it’s like some kind of sample. I interviewed him once in person that was for SOHH when I used to work for them and one thing I’ve noticed is that Scarface has a very short attention span. So for a retrospective where I’m going to talk about albums that came out years ago, there’s no way I’m going to pull that off on the phone. So I went to Jayson Rodriguez [XXL’s Executive Editor], I was like, “I need this to be in person to be able to reel Scarface in.” So, they booked the flight, and I went to Houston. Nancy Byron set the whole thing up.

Scarface’s Studio:

On the second day I went to the studio. It’s technically not Houston. It’s on the outskirts. It looks like Dunder Mifflin is there, but Scarface records there. It was 'Face, it was Rico Allen [Scarface’s manager], and it was his longtime engineer[Joe]—that produced a lot of his stuff from the ‘90s.

[The studio] was very bare. It really looks like a homemade studio that your homeboy might have. It’s not extravagant. The mixing board is not the biggest, but it’s big enough. When you walk in—I just remember a lot of wood. Me and ‘Face were [by] the table in the middle, like—it looked like a metal or aluminum table in the middle. And then in the back there was a couch where people were chilling.

That’s where he records his latest albums. The Untouchable he recorded in L.A., and the The Fix he recorded in New York and Atlanta. He recorded M.A.D.E. at that studio, and I think he also recorded Emeritus [there], so everything since then I think has been at that studio.

Chopping it Up with Scarface:

‘Face showed up an hour late. [Laughs.] During that hour, I was just chopping it up with Rico, who also manages Devin the Dude. Just going back and forth talking about ‘Face and his vibe, and me explaining to him why I wanted to do it in person as opposed to on the phone. Rico was like, “That makes total sense.” ‘Face finally shows up, super cool. And one thing that I never do is—even if I’m in a rush, I never push the artist to just go right into it. So ‘Face was there, at first it was just a little conversation. ‘Face is that guy that talks to the room a lot and is just super comedic. He walks in, and if you’re there and you don’t know him, he’ll start talking to you [while looking at you directly], and then he’ll turn around and talk to the other guy, and while he’s talking to you he’ll assure himself by asking, “Remember that Rico?” That’s exactly what I was describing that I can’t do over the phone. So that interview ended up being a listening session/conversation/us on our laptop watching YouTube videos. I had to talk to ‘Face at least an hour and a half to two hours, easily.

He would break into a story—like towards the end he had this whole story about YouTube, about how these people don’t take their craft seriously out of nowhere. We’re online and we started watching these wack-ass rappers on YouTube. ‘Face would go, “You heard of this guy?” And he’ll go, “Pull up your laptop.” So he’s very in tune with what’s going on. And the one thing I regret not asking him is how he gets informed about it. But he seemed like his ear was to the street. I remember him bringing up Big K.R.I.T., like “Big K.R.I.T. is cold, like he can get 25.” And what I interpreted from that was that he thinks Big K.R.I.T. could have a whole career for 25 years.

It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience in a sense—I’ve never had an interview like that before. I like my interviews to be conversational so the artist doesn’t feel like they’re working, [laughs] but that one was all over the place. In a good way, but it was just so disjointed in ways. A lot of breaks in between.

‘Face is just super charismatic, super cool. He’s a big dude. He gained weight, but one of the things we talked about is he’s about to start boxing. It’s funny he told me a story about his new jab that he invented and shit like that. He was showing me like, “This is how you do it.” It made sense, like you could tell he could box. He was schooling me a lot. One of the most pleasant interviews I’ve had in a long time. I’m a ‘Face fan, but I definitely want him to win even more.


Breaking Down Scarface’s Catalog:

So at first he played me a few records from his new album Rooted that’s coming out later this year. The records were great. Like he’s keeping it real close to him, he’s not really letting people hear it. Then we started going into The Untouchable and right in the middle we would talk about a particular song, and he’d be like, “Yo, play that, play that.” And he would break into the rhyme. He was really on point. So when I’d read certain lyrics, he would make sure that I knew what the right lyrics were. ‘Face is definitely a lot sharper than people realize.

I went through the tracks I knew he would have stories behind. For example, I had “Mary Jane” from The Untouchable record. I listened to it and the funny thing is I never noticed until I listened to it—I’m like, “Hold up, this is that Ashanti joint that goes, ‘baby, baby, baby.’” So I knew I had a story right there ‘cause I need to ask him about that sample that they used for Ashanti to the extent that Ashanti’s ad-libs were the same as Scarface, even in the beginning. Like “I don’t remember feeling like this,” she took that from ‘Face, too. I ended up having a story about how Mary J wanted that record and they never cleared it, but they cleared it for Irv Gotti. I went through all the singles, so I knew there would be a story behind that as far as the label. For example, The Fix, they only came out with one video officially, “My Block.” And I remember them saying they’d come out with “Someday” and it never came out. Obviously, now it’s the age of the Internet, so “Someday” ended up on YouTube and he gave me the whole story behind that and how J Prince was like, “Yo, you don’t want to put that out. That’s not your brand, that’s not you.”

Artists, I think—it’s funny to me when I hear artists talk about how they don’t like talking about their old stuff, ‘cause I find a lot of artists love doing it especially when the writer is knowledgeable. They can pick up on the fact that you’re a fan and can appreciate that. So [Scarface] wasn’t really hesitant at all—and we talked about the new stuff also.

“The only muthufucka that might be able to fuck with my catalog is maybe Prince. Everybody else is trash.”

That was random. I can’t take credit for that quote ‘cause he was starting to say that The Untouchable was basically about him taking his craft seriously and then he just went off like, “I’m the greatest of all time.” And the funny thing about that is at first when he said it I was looking at him like, “Okay…” And out of nowhere he’s like, “Prince might be able to get me.” And I’m like, “Hold up, you’re talking all genres?’ And he was said, “Yes!”

One thing that we did do—and I don’t remember how it came about—but we started talking about Michael [Jackson]. I think it was back in June, so we started talking about the fact that Michael Jackson has been gone for almost three years. So we started listening to old Michael Jackson joints, and by the third joint he was like, “Shit, Mike got me, too.” [Laughs.] That was dope.

Calling Out All Artists:

The ill thing that didn’t make the piece—another thing that he did while we were talking is how he’d get on the phone. So we started talking about Beanie Sigel, and he starts telling me about records that he never put out from The Fix. He’s like, “I got a record with Clark Kent,” and out of nowhere he calls Clark Kent and puts him on speaker phone so I can hear, and he’s like, “Yo, you still got that record we did?” Clark Kent then goes, “I got to check, I got to check.” And then they start talking about Beanie. Both of them are like, “Yo, is he in jail?” “Nah, I don’t know. Try him.” And [Scarface] calls Beanie right after, he never picked up. And out of the blue, he got a call from 2 Chainz. I don’t even know if I’m supposed to say that, but he got a call from 2 Chainz about trying to get ‘Face on his album. And that night, ‘Face was like, “He’s been asking me for that verse for a minute, I got to do it tonight.”

One thing he was talking about Tupac and MC Breed. I remember he was showing me his phone and how he never deleted [MC Breed’s] number after he died. And we’re talking about a guy that died long before iPhones. You know, ‘Face got an iPhone, so that means he had to transfer his shit and he kept that number.