Thursday, October 2, 2003

Gangstas love this gangster

Rappers adopt 'Scarface' as a hip-hop icon 20 years ahead of its time

By Margaret A. McGurk
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Rap was still a small niche in 1983 when Al Pacino shredded the screen as doomed Cuban gangster Tony Montana in Brian DePalma's Scarface.

In the 20 years since, as rap surged to worldwide popularity, hip-hop artists have turned the movie into a treasured cultural memento. Bonus features on the remastered two-disc anniversary DVD released this week include a 20-minute documentary called Origins of a Hip-Hop Classic.

Among the movie's fans is Price Hill's own Skandal, 27, a rapper and producer - and an avid movie fan - who also referees MC battles at Top Cat's in Corryville. We asked him for five reasons why the hip-hop/Scarface nexus came to be:

1. Value for the money: "One, it's a good movie. A long, good movie."

2. The power of reputation: "(Montana) was the most feared, the most respected. ... A lotta the hard-core rappers wanna be into that I-don't-give-a-damn image right now. If you're against the grain on all levels, including the law, you just the (best). That's how they looking at things right now. Like 50 Cent, crazy guy come out with an album pointing a gun at you and sell that many records? ... Just because he got shot nine times, he's the most gangster individual in the world."

3. The American dream: "It's about a dude that came from nothin', absolutely nothin', and turned into this icon in his town. A lot of rappers ... related to it. 'I didn't come from nothin' neither, I'm in trouble with the police just like this dude was.' "

4. Core values: "If you his friend, he was the coolest dude in the world. If you was against him, he was the ugliest."

5. Personal resonance: "I guess cats just saw a lot of theyself in the movie, especially if they quote-unquote made it."

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