Two weeks separated the release of One Hunid, the debut from Scarface protégés the Product, and My Homies 2, Scarface’s eighth “solo” album that sometimes featured other rappers taking over entire tracks. There’s a world of difference between the two records — One Hunid has purpose and less filler, not to mention much better packaging and artwork — but what stands out most is how respected Scarface seems on the Product record. His seal of approval is prominent and taken seriously — the very idea of him presenting a new group is an event. He also shows up on more tracks than he does on Homies 2 and gets his hands in more of the production. Clearly, One Hunid is the album he actually wanted to be a part of.
Eliminate ‘Face from the picture and you’ve got Young Malice and Wil Hen, both more than capable of handling things on their own. This is talent nurtured from the ground up: Wil is a former Bay Area pimp; Malice rapped for Scarface at a party in Mississippi. They sound more like war-hardened street soldiers than emcees, narrating creeped-out episodes of housing-project hell burning with close-ups of the fire: part-time jobs, high school dropouts, pending court cases, tattooed elbows, no regrets. The song titles are short and direct and read like chapters out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel: “Read,” “Hustle,” “Pride,” “Dead Broke.” The record is sharp and to the point; thirteen tracks with no skits and lyrics that don’t mince feelings about hustling’s gritty realism — its appeal and its inevitable dead end.
The production, handled mostly by Tone Capone with contributions from ‘Face, J. Bido, P. King and Alchemist (who handles the stellar “G Type,” which is so good Al included it on his Chemistry Files mixtape), is fresh and suggestive of early-’90s West Coast low-rider rap — breezy and soulful; lots of original, homegrown funk (felt best in the last three tracks: “Dead Broke,” “Don’t Matter” and “Life’s Been Good”). It calls to mind groups such as 2nd II None and Compton’s Most Wanted, that sort of unwelcoming-yet-still-accessible street culture that didn’t adhere to convention but now gets brought up with smiles.
The Product feels that way, too, like Young Malice and Wil Hen have captured some moment in time whose fate is undecided. If their mentor’s career is any kind of blueprint, it’s a moment that lasts as long as the talent keeping it there.
Scarface Web site