After dropping off the recent Geto Boys tour after becoming ill, diaristic Southern rap pioneer Scarface is not only on the mend but preparing his ninth proper studio album, Deeply Rooted.
"I was really doing bad out on that road, man. Eating truck stop food. I put on like 10 pounds," the rapper tells Rolling Stone. "It's just God's way of telling me, and my body's way, that I need to slow down and really get myself back together before I even consider going back on the road with the Geto Boys again."
Though Scarface says he's "probably about 75, 80" percent better, his bandmate, Willie D, had hip-hop fans worried when he took to the Internet to report that the rapper had been hospitalized in Houston following a concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 29th, not specifying the illness that had sideline him. Scarface says it was pneumonia caused by the tour grind.
"I think it had a lot to do with sweating my ass off and not completely drying off. Just onstage, offstage, hot, cold, hot, cold," he says. "Right when I got off the stage in Nebraska [on June 21st], I was feeling a little funny, man. 'Damn, I'm getting the chills, man. Am I coming down with the flu?' It kind of went away but I started coughing up mucous. The shit I was coughing up was damn near the color of some good-ass weed, maybe some spinach or something — it was that green."
"At first I thought it was the flu, and then I thought it was a chest cold and then I thought it was asthma. I tried to self-medicate or whatever and that shit wasn't working. So I went to the doctor and had some bloodwork done. And some X-rays done on my chest, and found out that I had pneumonia. I have a spot on my lungs. The doctor said it looked suspicious [like] lung cancer. I'm not gonna say I got lung cancer because I don't smoke. So, let's just hope that that came from pneumonia."
Now, feeling better after figuring out the "tons and tons" of vitamins his body was lacking, he's preparing to release Deeply Rooted on September 4th via his own FaceMob Music imprint. The album, which 'Face says is completed and turned in, is expected to feature guest appearances from John Legend, Cee Lo Green, Avant and a collaboration between Nas and Rick Ross. Production will be handled by producers he's worked with over the last 20 years, including N.O. Joe and Mike Dean — or as Scarface says, "nobody too famous, basically just doing me."
"I'm a musician, first and foremost," he says. "I don't feel like I have to fit in. I don't even feel like I even should fit in. I feel like I should just do. . . My cousin, Johnny Nash, did not sound anything like Otis Redding, did he? And Otis Redding didn't sound anything like Sam Cooke. Marvin Gaye didn't sound nothing like Frankie Beverly. And Zapp didn't sound anything like the Commodores. I said that to say this: any act that's making music today, the day before, or tomorrow that is sounding like somebody else? They need to stop it. They need to get out of the game. Masta Ace said it best: 'There's a sign at the door, no bitin' allowed.'"
Though Scarface's album is due soon, fans hoping for the Geto Boys reunion album, may have to do some waiting. Willie D launched a Kickstarter in June to fund what would have been the group's eighth album, and first in a decade, Habeas Corpus. Yesterday, the funding campaign ended unsuccessfully, raising only $46,647 of the intended $100,000 goal.
"In all honestly, I don't know if that's what the fans actually wanted," says Scarface. "I feel like if that's what they wanted, then that's what we'd be doing. . . . If talks of doing another Geto Boys album reappears, and that's what the people want, make no mistake about it, I'm down with the people. But if the question was asked and there's really not a great demand for it, then I'd much rather be producing my son's album. I got three boys that's extremely talented. I got three boys that's probably better rappers than I'll ever be. Matter of fact, my youngest boy that's rapping is 13, and he got up on my set and wrecked it. And I was like, 'Shit, don't come back up here no more.' He stole my show. . . and wasn't scared to do it either."
"Man, we had a hell of a time, bro," he says of the Geto Boys. "We had a great run. And every few years we should tour. But I don't know if that reunion is ever gonna be. If the fans don't wanna do that shit, then I don't do it. I'm with the fans on this one."
Looking forward, Scarface hopes to released My Little Homies, a follow-up to his 1998 My Homies project, which teamed him with a slew of collaborators — he says it will feature a younger generation of artists like Drake and Lil Wayne.
It's fitting since the charts are filled with rappers unafraid to plunge the depths of their emotions — a machismo-bursting trait that Scarface pioneered in the early Nineties. With artists like J Cole and Drake owing him a debt of gratitude, is 2015 Scarface's time?
"It's always been my time," he says. "I'm a musician, and musicians are time-less."