Finding The GOAT (Round 4): Tupac vs. Scarface…Who You Got?
We have now reached the critical Round 4 in the ultimate battle for the title of the GOAT (Greatest of All-Time). With 21 MCs remaining (with the largest winning margin, Rakim receives a bye for the round), things are really coming down to 10 match-ups, leading AFH’s bracket-style series towards its closing rounds. With more than 35 years of MCs taken into consideration, parsed into generational brackets, Round 4 will mark the last series of peer-based battles. In this elite class, only 10 rappers will go on to join Rakim in Round 5. Also, as with Round 3, the winner by the biggest margin in Round 4 will receive a bye in Round 5. Each battle in Round 4 will include full mixes showcasing the enormous talents of each MC. Who stays, and goes on? Only you can decide.
In their careers, Tupac and Scarface worked together. Two fiercely determined voices of the oppressed, ‘Pac and ‘Face filled Gangsta Rap with thoughtful enrichment, and made enduring commentary that was unwaveringly street. The Geto Boy and the Thug Immortal are both cult followed MCs, though they are distinct. While Scarface has forever been a bit of an underground icon, transmitting his message from the small Rap-A-Lot Records, letting word of mouth reach his disciples, 2Pac lived as a mainstream media figure, thriving in film, television, and the largest stage seen by a rapper during his life. ‘Pac torched an eternal flame of impact in just five years, while Scarface is nearing 30, with no signs of slowing. The sales, hit records, and headlines are not in the same universe, but musically is where these two MCs are most alike. Soulful, outspoken, and tapped into the ghettos and suburbs, with Capitol Hill listening in. After knocking out Ice Cube in Round 3, will Tupac Shakur topple another of his greatest inspirations? Will Scarface’s consistent catalog, and pioneering patriarch show its force? We, the people decide. (click one to vote)
Voting For Round 4 is now closed. Stay up to date with the latest Finding The GOAT brackets
In just five short years making albums, Tupac changed Hip-Hop. Like his background, and his young life, Tupac Shakur’s music is filled with passion, soul, and conviction—amidst contradiction. His albums (and many of his songs) were conscious and Gangsta Rap at once, taking on police, society, and industry foes within the same confines. At times, ‘Pac was a pepped-up lyricist who was inspired by the greats, displaying metaphor, alliteration, flow, and cadence. In other places, Shakur rapped conversationally, coming from a place of sincere urgency, more about the content than the method. This duality has made 2Pac one of Hip-Hop’s most enduring superstars, with sales and critical acclaim that have far outlasted his tragic 1996 murder.
2Pac’s versatility may be his greatest attribute, from the socially-narrative (“Brenda’s Got A Baby”) to the anthematic (“California Love”) to the revengeful (“Picture Me Rollin'”). From the top and the bottom, Tupac was gifted in making highly-specific songs that listeners could relate to. He cemented classic LPs such as Me Against The World, and the Death Row follow-up All Eyez On Me double-album. Moreover, ‘Pac’s messages and collaborations spanned the Hip-Hop map long before Rap ever lived on the Internet. Known for fast writing, and often limited takes in the studio, ‘Pac’s urgency may be one of his flaws, but he maintained to get the words out while the thoughts were real, and the ink was wet—and that’s just what he did.
2Pac – The Underground Railroad mixtape by DJ Fatal
A keystone of the Geto Boys, ‘Face began his career as Akshun, a booming Houston, Texas dancer-turned-DJ-turned-vocalist who was likened (by self, anyway) to Tony Montana. The teenaged MC’s introspection, honesty, and constantly troubled, manic depressive ways gave the Geto Boys a collective depth, and human side not easily found in contemporaries like N.W.A or 2 Live Crew. Parallel to his Geto Boys career, ‘Face made deeper, darker, and more daring albums on his own. As far back as 1991, the MC defied the dismissive views toward Southern rappers, with an amazing voice, smooth dialect, and plenty to say about himself and the world. As Hip-Hop transitioned from the shock value of N.W.A and Geto Boys to more horror-centered themes found in Spice-1, Method Man, and Ice Cube, Brad Jordan was ready. The Rap-A-Lot mainstay offered The Diary, one of the hallmarks of 1994. Short of Tupac, few Hip-Hop artists have been as successful in balancing careers, from solo to Geto Boys to Facemob, to guest work, to helping develop enduring acts (Ludacris, Devin, Made Men) at Rap-A-Lot and elsewhere.
In the 2000s, through the championing of artists like Jay Z, Nas, and Houston’s 2005 revival, Scarface became one of the genre’s Mount Rushmore-worthy lyricists. Always viewed as an underdog, 2000’s “My Block” and its album The Fix gave Scarface the fanfare he’s forever deserved in his lone studio album off of Rap-A-Lot. Delving further into Southern Rock, Blues and Funk roots, Scarface picked up a guitar and put down a lot of the vices in his life—never getting preachy, just being wiser on record. With classic albums in three different decades, Scarface may just be the kingpin.
Scarface – Southern Royalty mixtape by DJ Hevehitta
So…who you got?