The Game’s The Documentary vs. Scarface’s The Fix. Which Is Better?
One year ago, Ambrosia For Heads launched a debate among its readers seeking to answer one of Hip-Hop’s most hotly-contested questions: who is the greatest MC of all time? “Finding The GOAT MC” lasted between September 2014 and May 2015, engaging millions of readers and ultimately producing its winner, as determined by hundreds of thousands of voters. Now, “Finding The GOAT” returns to ask a new question: what is the greatest of all time Hip-Hop album?
“Finding The GOAT Album” will consider 120 albums from three individual eras (40 in each), with options for wild card and write-in candidates. You and your vote will decide which album goes forward, and which one leaves the conversation. While there will no doubt be conversation between family and friends (virtual and real), only votes cast in the voting tool below will be counted, so use the power of your click.
Gangsta Rap made a strong resurgence by the early 2000s. As Scarface made a hallmark album in his third decade in The Fix, The Game went from Murder Dog ads to VIBE covers through The Documentary. These later collaborators came from celebrated cities, with narratives that built trust and intimacy with listeners. Both artists, on these albums, found their most exciting featured guests and star-studded production bullpens. While one is a multi-platinum breakthrough, the other properly delivered a pioneer back to the mainstream, care of radio and video. Both of these albums are highly revered a decade-plus later, so which goes forth, and which goes home? (click one then click “vote”).
The Documentary by The Game
Just as Eminem, 50 Cent, and Young Buck had once been bench-warming talent in the eyes of other labels, the Aftermath Entertainment family continued proving others wrong when it came to The Game. Previously an artist releasing albums on JT The Bigga Figga’s Get Low imprint, Game was a Compton kid with an attitude, and a deeply convincing story. Now enveloped in the G-Unit/Aftermath umbrella, Jayceon Taylor’s raspy voice, street respect, and love for Hip-Hop would mushroom in an explosive mainstream introduction known as The Documentary. As Aftermath had found success in new places, and G-Unit wanted West Coast delegation, Game was a media-savvy star who basked in the spotlight. He brought with him the iconography and message of the Ruthless and Death Row eras: lowriders, set-trippin’, weed, and a general fearlessness on the microphone.
In the case of The Documentary, the multi-platinum debut took a village to raise it. While Game’s verses were commanding, the main propulsion from his independent days was the A-list group of producers, singers, and guests that made his album one of the greatest shows on earth. “How We Do” was a formulaic G-Unit hit, with 50 Cent and Game arm-in-arm, moving from the streets to the club. Timbaland and then-accomplice Danjahandz laced Game with an Electronic shake-down in “Put You On The Game.” Just Blaze’s dusty crates were anything but laid back, as the producer energized Gangsta Rap in a way not heard on this level since Doggystyle. Through all of it, Game shined. He was a Cedar Block Piru who professed a love of Kool G Rap, MC Eiht, and Common—an anomaly to the marketplace. Like album collaborator Kanye West did a year earlier, Jayceon used his story of nearly losing his life to propel him to make his art count. Songs like smash hit “Hate It Or Love It” showed the tables turning in a life with limited expectations. “Dreams” and “Like Father, Like Son” were beyond entertainment purposes, as Game clearly wanted to be an artist that mattered long after the movement. Eerily prophetic, the CPT protege of Dr. Dre would soon find himself exiled from his label, at war with his G-Unit boss, and distanced for years from his mentor. The Documentary is the foundation for Game’s perseverance and endurance. With all the tools available, the MC made one of the most important albums of the last 15 years. And when all of those resources seemed taken away, he weathered a career out of the cement and steel foundation laid with this breakthrough gem.
Album Number: 3 (solo)
Released: January 18, 2005
Label: G-Unit/Aftermath Entertainment/Interscope Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #11 (certified gold, March 2005; certified platinum, March 2005; certified 2x platinum, March 2005)
Song Guests: 50 Cent, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Nate Dogg, Tony Yayo, Faith Evans, Mary J. Blige, Dion, Marsha Ambrosious, Mark Batson, Mike Elizondo, Focus…, Keenan “Kee Note” Holloway, Lionel “LJ” Holwan, Glenn Jefferies, D. Diana Jeffries, Wayne Kee, Steven King, Nathasha Mathis, Ervin Pope, Luis Resto, Timbaland, Tank
Song Producers: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Just Blaze, Timbaland, Kanye West, Cool & Dre, Hi-Tek, Scott Storch, Focus…, Needlz, Buckwild, Mike Elizondo, Che Vicious, Luis Resto, Danjahandz, Jeff Bhasker, Jeff Reed, Mark Batson, Havoc
The Fix by Scarface
Fifteen years into a wildly successful and acclaimed Rap career, Scarface raised the stakes. The Geto Boys veteran and Houston, Texas pioneer MC went on hiatus from Rap-A-Lot Records to test the major label system. With J. Prince’s logo still on the back of the disc, ‘Face aligned with Def Jam Records (where he was holding an executive position) and made the kind of album his peers and pupils were making, rich with features, exciting production, and fully-formed hits. Strategic, Scarface’s art did not waver. The Fix, packaged with a small sandwich bag and tin-foil insert, was raw to Brad Jordan’s core. The MC still barked at frauds and fakes, still publicly alluded to manic depressive perspectives, and still showed a love of combining Hip-Hop with roots music.
While Scarface was already a master of making incredible audio meals from limited ingredients, The Fix put Jay Z, Nas, and The Neptunes on his team. The Geto Boy called the plays (as he produced a lot of the album), and came out with radio-ready hits. “On My Block” explained what made ‘Face an O.G., and the loving, disciplined, and sometimes treacherous environment that delivered him. As all rappers were seemingly stuck on talking about the ghetto, Brad Jordan did so in a way with more soul, community, and tangibility. “In Cold Blood” showed that even in his thirties, the MC knew how to get his “the ski mask” way. The song, along with “Sell Out” and “I Ain’t The One” positioned Scarface as the Gangsta Rap pioneer that he was. On “Guess Who’s Back?” he had his peers and pupils beside him. On a crisp Kanye West beat, Scarface and Jay established their greatest collaboration to date, as Beanie Sigel stepped in as the product of each, part thug, part hustler. But with all the confidence and cocksure trigger fingers, Scarface’s range and vulnerability are what have made him a 30-year master. The platinum MC made “In Between Us” with Nas, a song about losing battles at times, only to win wars. Even on his most polished album, Scarface was never too big or too proud to admit defeats, reveal a lesson learned, or show the error in his way. The Fix was true game: the elevated kingpin talking to the corner-boys. Scarface treated this album as his final words, before taking a lengthy hiatus—that he would later break. That care, attention, and respect for detail shows in an album that, 15 years later, still feels like a phenomenally potent award tour for Brad Jordan.
Album Number: 7 (solo)
Released: August 6, 2002
Label: Def Jam South/Def Jam Records
Highest Charting Position (Top 200): #4
Song Guests: Jay Z, Beanie Sigel, Kanye West, Nas, WC, Kelly Price, Faith Evans
Song Producers: (self), Kanye West, Mike Dean, The Neptunes (Pharrell & Chad Hugo), Nashiem, Nottz, T-Mix, Tony Pizarro, China Black, Flip, Lofey
So what’s the better album? Make sure you vote above.
Related: Finding The GOAT: The Albums