James Bernard
November 22, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Mr. Scarface Is Back

Current Status
In Season
Priority, Rap-a-Lot

We gave it a B+

Be warned: The Geto Boys, notorious for their gory street tales, are on the loose once again. After this summer’s gold album, We Can’t Be Stopped, and a huge surprise pop hit, ”Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” all three Boys — Willie D, Scarface, and Bushwick Bill — are dropping solo albums, as if we haven’t had enough of them. Well, somebody hasn’t, to judge from the runaway sales of Mr. Scarface Is Back, which after just three weeks was nestled at No. 51 on Billboard’s pop charts and nearly gold. Mr. Scarface’s neighborhood is not for the fainthearted. In ”Born Killer,” he raps ”I was born without a heart/…I don’t love me/how the f— am I gonna love you.” It’s easy to imagine what follows: tales of drug deals gone bad, revenge, and casual shootings. Yawn. What saves the record from becoming cartoonish is Scarface’s voice, a riveting, battle-weary baritone that booms with authority. The music — no artful samples, just the beats, ma’am — is rock solid and exclusively at the service of that voice. The relentless assault will wear away any disbelief in Scarface’s lyrics. Listen, if you dare. B+

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