Classic Collaborations: Scarface & 2Pac – “Smile” (Prod. Mike Dean, Tone Capone, Scarface)

Scarface and 2Pac, two of the most prolific and vivid songwriters in hip-hop history, collaborated to create a deeply introspective masterpiece.  As the lead single from Scarface’s fourth studio album The Untouchable, produced by Mike Dean, Tone Capone, and Scarface -featuring Johnny P on the hook – the song was released shortly after the death of 2pac, peaking at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the only single released by Scarface to go Gold.

The song opens to an intro by 2Pac saying, “There’s gon’ be some stuff you gon’ see/That’s gon’ make it hard to smile in the future/But through whatever you see/Through all the rain and the pain/You gotta keep your sense of humor/You gotta be able to smile through all this bullshit.”

Kicking off the first first, ‘Pac establishes and captures the essence exactly as one would imagine with, “Our lifestyles be close-captioned, addicted to fatal attractions/Pictures of actions be played back in the midst of mashin’/No fairy tales for this young black male/Some see me stranded in this land of hell, jail, and crack sales/Hustlers hardly think of culture
/Or the repercussions while bustin’ on backstabbin’ vultures/Sellin’ my soul for material wishes, fast cars, and bitches/Wishin’ I live my life a legend, immortalized in pictures/Why shed tears? Save your sympathy/My childhood years were spent buryin’ my peers in the cemetary/Here’s a message to the newborns waitin’ to breathe/If you believe, then you can achieve just look at me!”

When ‘Face comes in on the second verse, he embodies his infamous dark, crypt keeper of hip-hop persona and opens his verse with nothing less than what one would expect from one of the greatest lyricists hip-hop has ever seen. Vividly and creatively he paints a verbal picture for you, “Now, as I open up my story, with the blaze of your blunts/And you can picture thoughts slowly, up on phrases I wrote/And I can walk you through the days that I done/I often wish that I could save everyone, but I’m a dreamer/Have you ever seen a nigga who was strong in the game/Overlookin’ his tomorrows, and they finally came?/Look back on childhood memories, and I’m still feelin’ the pain/Turnin’ circles in my 9th grade, dealin’ cocaine/Too many hassles in my local life, survivin’ the strain/And a man without a focus, life could drive him insane/Stuck inside a ghetto fantasy hopin’ it change/But when I focus on reality we broke and in chains”.

Closing out the song Scarface speaks to the passing of 2pac, offers up a moment to pray, and envisions the angels carrying him home. In their only official collaboration, the two icons put together a masterful work of art, right down to the the video’s controversial crucifixion imagery.

Check out the video for “Smile” from Scarface, 2Pac, and Johnny P. below: