Released by the Universal-distributed Def Jam in conjunction with Universal Studios Home Video's 20th anniversary edition of Scarface (everybody loves an opportunist), Music Inspired by Scarface pays tribute to Tony Montana, a character whose influence upon rap music has, at times, seemed as significant as that of George Clinton and James Brown -- as far as film characters are concerned, Montana has certainly left a mark as indelible as John Shaft and Foxy Brown. Samples from the film have adorned dozens of rap records, punctuating rhymes with the unforgettable one-liners and all the familiar gun-play, and the effect of Montana's aura and life story has also been felt throughout tracks written partly (or wholly) in his image. Put together by Def Jam president Kevin Liles and DJ Enuff, this compilation strings together a batch of tracks that spans the history of rap music, from Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "White Lines (Don't Do It)" to Joe Budden's "Pusha Man." Sometimes "inspired by" is a phrase that should be used loosely -- the inspiration has to be diligently sniffed out. But there are some more obvious ones, such as Scarface's "Mr. Scarface," which has to be one of the first (and best) examples one thinks of when considering the ties between the film and rap music. A lot of thought was put into the sequencing; and to further highlight the concept, every few songs are broken up by 30-second fragments from the film. Not your everyday compilation, Music Inspired by Scarface threatens to complement the film better than the original, Giorgio Moroder-produced soundtrack. While the insertion of a more up-to-date score would've been a mistake (Def Jam actually asked to do just that), this disc will no doubt be valuable to rap fans who have watched the film dozens of times over.
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AllMusic Review by Andy Kellman