Known as the Godfather of Southern Rap, Brad ‘Scarface’ Jordan unflinchingly declares in the intro to his memoir, Diary of a Madman:
“I am you. I’m the way you think and the way you feel; the things you’ve seen and loved and the things you’ve seen that you can never unsee. I’m your hopes and your fears, the quiet dark moments that house the secrets you hold tight deep at night and the loud public moments that grip and rip your block in broad daylight. I’m the pain and the progress, the sadness and the celebration, the dream and the nightmare. I am you. I am your voice. I am the voice of the streets. I’m Brad, I’m Face, I’m BrotherMob. I’m Scarface. … And this is my story.”
Beginning his tale with an account of a suicide attempt at age thirteen, the underlying theme of this unforgettable memoir is the continuing struggle to pick life over death: “Dying is the easy part. It’s the living that’s hard. That shit takes a lifetime. And it will test you every step of the way.”
Exploring the full breadth of the human experience and then some, this memoir moves easily from Scarface’s early life and music influences in the 1980s, to his front-row view of the War on Drugs on the streets of Houston, to his current status as a certified platinum hip-hop artist, producer, and record executive.
A philosopher artist, Scarface doesn’t shy away from attacking life’s big questions. And, as with his music, raw honesty is what drives the narrative of his story.
“When I sit down to write, I want to be the voice for every underprivileged kid who feels like there isn’t any hope out there. At the same time, I want to let everyone who doesn’t know what it feels like to face a lifetime of hopeless bullshit to immediately understand that pain and that anger as soon as they hear my voice and listen to my songs. And I want both of those kids—the one who knows the pain all too well and the other one who’s only experienced anything approaching that kind of pain through my music—to know that the shit I’m putting on my records is the truth.”
There is truth between the covers of this book. And it’s a harsh but hopeful truth that can speak to anyone ready to hear:
“I was born just like you, and just like you, I was born to die. … It’s written in all of our books, on page one before we even open our eyes and take our first breath. … I’m no different. I will die. … And just like you, I can only hope that I’ve made my mark before I go.”