December 1st marks the 35th year anniversary of the 1983 film Scarface. The movie has been a huge staple in the hip hop community. Artists have shared the impact and the influence the film has made on them. Countless artists are drawn to the plot of Tony Montana played by Al Pacino coming to America with absolutely nothing. He then rises through the ranks, climbing to the top of the mountain and achieving ultimate success and power.
The film does exude a lot of parallels to the hip hop game. Over the years songs from the movie soundtrack and score have been sampled numerous times. Artists also resonate with Tony Montana’s ideology. His dialogue from the film has been sampled directly or used as a source of inspiration.
One of the first artist to mention that sampled Scarface was Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan. On the track “Criminology” from his classic 1995 album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… samples a pivotal scene where Tony Montana confronts Sosa. It is Tony Montana’s fearless attitude of confronting anybody regardless who they are which serves as his gift and curse. That same year Kool G Rap utilizes the dialogue where Tony Montana discusses with his boss Frank, they need to think big, take their operation to the next level. Dreaming, thinking big is a constant theme in hip hop. The track is “Fast Life” featuring Nas and found on the 4,5,6 album.
Raekwon – Criminology feat. Ghostface Killah
Scarface – Tony Montana and Sosa Phone Call
Kool G Rap – Fast Life feat. Nas
Scarface – We Gotta Think Big Now
Another artist who has referenced Scarface a number of times is Jay-Z. The first time being on “Can’t Knock The Hustle” from his 1996 debut album Reasonable Doubt. His affiliate Pain In Da Ass recites a scene towards the beginning of the movie. At this point in time Tony Montana is still a dishwasher who is anxious to prove he is ready to run with the big boys. That same year Mobb Deep sampled “Tony’s Theme” from the score for “G.O.D Pt. III” for the album Hell on Earth. They would revisit the sample one more time for their track “It’s Mine” featuring Nas off the album Murda Muzik.
Jay-Z – Can’t Knock the Hustle feat. Mary J Blige
Scarface – Dishwasher Scene
Mobb Deep – G.O.D. Pt III
Scarface – Tony’s Theme
Mobb Deep – It’s Mine feat. Nas
The traditional soundtrack for Scarface itself was a cult classic, producing a number of memorable songs that were ultimately sampled as well. Cam’ron sampled Deborah Harry’s “Rush Rush” for his song “Yeo” which landed on a Def Jam compilation of music inspired by the film Scarface in 2003. Rick Ross who was also tied to Def Jam at one point released in 2006 “Push It” sampling Paul Engemann’s “Scarface (Push it to the Limit)”. It served as a single off his debut album Port of Miami. In addition to a remix that featured Bun B, Jadakiss, Styles P, and The Game. Last artist to mention is Lil Wayne, who used Amy Holland’s signature song “She’s on Fire” for “On Fire” from 2010’s Rebirth.
Cam’ron – Yeo
Deborah Harry – Rush Rush
Rick Ross – Push It (rmx) feat. Bun B, Jadakiss, Styles P & The Game
Paul Engemann – Scarface (Push it to the Limit)
Lil Wayne – On Fire
Amy Holland – She’s on Fire
There are so many more artists and hip-hop songs to mention that are associated with Al Pacino’s character Tony Montana and seminal film Scarface. Of course, the artist Scarface himself and his group the Geto Boys amongst others. The film will always be synonymous with the hip hop culture. The ideology of coming from humble beginnings and building yourself up to the top of the food chain through fearlessness and determination.