By Rob Markman
In hip-hop there is no film more celebrated that Brian De Palma’s 1983 film “Scarface.” From beat samples, to dramatic album skits and overall song concepts, rap has been borrowing from the cult-classic since its release. It’s an appreciation that the film’s star Al Pacino has noticed. “I mean, they really get it and they understand it, and that’s a great thing,” he said to MTV News of rap’s affinity for the crime drama. “They’ve been very supportive all these years. I think they’ve helped us tremendously.”
From Jay-Z to Rick Ross to the rapper Scarface, hip-hop’s obsession with Tony Montana is no secret. Al’s quote had us here at RapFix feeling a bit gangsta, so we decided to recall some of our favorite “Scarface” moments in hip-hop.
Scarface’s The World is Yours
After adopting his rap name from the film, Brad Jordan continued to reference “Scarface” throughout his entire career. On his 1991 song “Mr. Scarface” he sampled a sound bite of one of Montana’s more famous lines: “All I have in this world is my word and my balls, and I don’t break them for nobody.” Then in 1993 Face Mob named his album The World is Yours, a phrase popularized by the movie. The next year, he sampled the flick’s theme song on the intro to his The Diary LP. And the beat goes on.
Nas’ “The World Is Yours” Video
The fictional Tony Montana had a lust for money and power. When Nas dropped his 1994 debut Illmatic his rap dreams were equally as big, hence the LP’s second single “The World Is Yours.” With its title inspired by the gaudy sculpture which sat in Montana’s mansion, Nas sang the hustler’s battle cry through-out the song’s hook. For the video the cigar-smoking QB MC sat in a jacuzzi swiping scenes straight out the movies.
Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt “Can’t Knock the Hustle” Intro
“You know something about cocaine?” And with that question, one of the most revered albums in hip-hop history was set off. Hov’s former side-kick Pain in Da Ass thrilled fans when he reenacted one of the movie’s more pivotal scenes. After growing tired of his life as an immigrant dishwasher in Miami, the enterprising Tony Montana meets his first drug connect Omar Suarez. From this point in the narrative Montana’s life would never be the same, and after he released Reasonable Doubtneither would Jigga’s.
The intro to Rae’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… track included a sound bite from the movie where Alejandro Sosa argues with Tony over the phone after Montana refused to carry out an assassination for the Bolivian drug lord. Sadly, things didn’t end well for Tony.
Mobb Deep Samples on “G.O.D. Pt.III” and “It’s Mine”
With its eerie synths and menacing build Giorgio Moroder’s “Tony’s Theme” was begging to be lifted and reused for rap. Thankful Mobb Deep did it justice on their 1996 track “G.O.D. Pt. III.” Things worked out so well, M-O-B-B revisited the sample and flipped it again when they teamed with Nas for their 1999 single “It’s Mine.” Murda Muzik indeed.
The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments”
When Biggie recorded his lyrical “step-by-step booklet” for drug dealing he included one rule from Montana’s mentor Frank Lopez: “Never get high on your own supply.”
Big Pun’s “Leatherface”
In undoubtedly the most gruesome scene in “Scarface,” Tony was forced to watch his friend Angel Fernandez ripped apart by a chainsaw. On “Leatherface” – a double nod to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the infamous “Scarface” scene, Pun sampled the movie’s audio to make his music even more menacing.
Rick Ross’ Sample On “Push It”
The Bawse’s debut Port of Miami was ripe with drug czar references and on “Push It” J.R. Rotem reworked Paul Engemann’s “Push It to the Limit” for the Rozay single. In the film, the original song was played during a montage which depicted Tony’s come-up. In the scene, he cashed in on his hustles, got married, bought a mansion and even a pet tiger. When Ross sampled the tune he was well on his way from going to unknown Floridian to the biggest rap boss that we’ve seen thus far. With his lyrics Rozay draws the perfect parallel when he spits, “You never now that dishwasher may be a beholder/ Who ever thought that fat girl would grow into Oprah/ Or that boy Rick Ross would be molding the culture.”
Lil Wayne’s “On Fire”
Amy Holland’s ’80’s pop-rock tune “She’s On Fire” was jacked by Weezy F. and flipped for his 2010 single “On Fire.” It doesn’t rank amongst Wayne’s best singles, but the updated version was equipped with a buoyant bass and 808 drums. May not have been the biggest hit, but it got plenty of nostalgia points.
Future’s “Tony Montana”
Newcomer Future wasn’t even born when “Scarface” was released in theatres, but the 2011 MTV Jams’ Fab 5 inductee was no doubt affected by the film. He isn’t the only youngin’ screaming “Tony Montana”; Drake, Meek Mill and Tyga all appear on remixes to the track. Now who said the 1983 film wouldn’t stand the test of time?
What are some of your favorite “Scarface” references? Tell us in the comments!