Nelly may be the multiplatinum superstar of the moment from the so-called Dirty South, but the evocative Scarface is the man truly representing the artistry of hip-hop's bawdy hard-core. The Geto Boys pioneer wowed rap and rock critics alike this year with his album The Fix and the single "On My Block." Scarface has a knack for mixing old-school funk and lyrics that detail the ethos of growing up poor and black. He found that medium on the classic Geto Boys confessional "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," and he finds it again with "On My Block." The song is built on a credible, old-timey blues piano riff, and the husky-voiced rapper uses the musical nostalgia to paint pictures of playing dominoes, selling cocaine, dodging the cops and struggling to get by on the south side of Houston. "I'll never leave my block/My niggas need me," he poignantly claims. In an era where thug rappers prefer the synthetic ghetto-fabulous route to unfiltered honesty, hip-hop needs Scarface, too.


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