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Hear and now

This week on the music beat: Sept. 24, 1999

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‘Face in the crowd

Brian De Palma’s bloody 1983 film, Scarface, in which Al Pacino portrays the sociopathic Cuban drug lord Tony Montana, has long exerted a profound influence on the hip-hop community. Like dead bodies in a Mafia-movie marathon, Scarface homages continue to pop up in rap songs and videos. Most recently, Puff Daddy sampled Pacino’s famous ”say goodnight to da bad guy” speech on his current CD, Forever (Master P also made use of the monologue on 1998’s MP Da Last Don). Other rappers who have paid tribute to Scarface include Fat Joe, Mobb Deep, Nas, the Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, and Scarface of the Geto Boys (whose debt is readily apparent). ”That movie has influenced rap in so many ways — musically, lyrically, and visually,” says hip-hop historian Gabriel Alvarez of ego trip magazine. We asked Pacino what he thought of his status as Lord of the Gangstas, but, alas, the actor declined to comment. Chalk it up to omerta.

Dead poet society

If rappers lionize Tony Montana, a growing number of rockers are genuflecting before the memory of singer-guitarist Jeff Buckley, who drowned in 1997. Ex-Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell says he wrote ”Wave Goodbye,” from his solo debut, Euphoria Morning, ”right after [Jeff] died. The lyrics are about Jeff, but also about losing someone, about that experience.” Meanwhile, songs inspired by Buckley’s death continue to pile up, among them Juliana Hatfield’s ”Trying Not to Think About It,” Aimee Mann’s unreleased ”Just Like Anyone,” and Duncan Sheik’s ”A Body Goes Down.” Buckley’s mother, Mary Guibert, says P.J. Harvey presented her with a tape of a song Harvey wrote about the late artist. Says Sheik of Buckley’s impact on him: ”He was the best male singer that I’ve ever heard, period. He didn’t sell as many records as a lot of people, and he wasn’t the most popular artist — though he should have been. But I felt I had to make some sort of statement to him to say ‘Thank you for giving us this great, incredible music.”’ Or, as Tony Montana might say, ”Say goodnight to da good guy.”