Exclusive Book Excerpt: Rap Legend Scarface Reveals Why He Wanted to Die in His New Memoir

Rapper Scarface of the Geto Boys performs at the Regal Theater in Chicago 1992
Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Rapper Scarface of the Geto Boys performs at the Regal Theater in Chicago in January, 1992.

Brad “Scarface” Jordan put Southern hip-hop on the radar as a member of the Geto Boys, a pioneering solo rapper and a Def Jam executive, selling millions of albums. But in his brutally honest memoir Diary of a Madman (out April 21 on Dey Street), written with Benjamin Meadows-Ingram, the 44-year-old digs into his dark side -- shootouts, drugs, mental wards and repeated attempts on his own life. Read on for an exclusive excerpt from the rap star's memoir.

Courtesy of Dey Street and HarperCollins

Looking back, I think I just wanted the attention. I see that now. But back then, I felt like attention was the last thing I wanted. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you if it was any one specific thing that had pushed me to that point. I just know that I was mad. Mad and sad. I felt like no one wanted me. My daddy was dead, and my mama didn’t want me. I didn’t really get along with my stepdad, and my grandma already had nine kids of her own, so there wasn’t really a place for me at her house either. I felt like I couldn’t do shit right, and the only way I could get any attention was by f---ing up. No one would come watch me play football or check out my baseball games or any shit like that, but as soon as I popped some kid in the face or busted somebody’s head open in class, everyone was there, telling me I was f---ed up for what I’d done, trying to take away my privileges and shit like that. That was the attention I was getting: for being a f---up.

Q&A: Scarface

I was always being punished or outcast from the rest of the family because of some shit I had done, so every conversation at home was like, “Oh, you know they caught him with some weed, huh?” Or, “You know he was back there selling dope?” Or, “You know he got an F on his report card? “Or, “You know he hit that boy in the head with that baseball bat?” There was just always some kind of f---ed-up shit going on with me, and by the time I was 13 I was over it. I felt like everyone -- my teachers, my classmates, the other parents in the neighborhood, my own family -- was mad at me and on some f--- you shit. So to me it was like, “F--- you, too, then.” You don’t have to tell me twice.

I would spend a lot of time alone. I’d go in my room at my mom’s house and not come out for weeks, just trying to find me. And I didn’t always like what I found. I was raised with the idea that I was born dying. That with every breath you take, you get closer to your last. It’s something I’ve always known. So my mentality, even back then, was always, “What’s the worst that could happen? That I could die or be killed? But I’m born dying, so death is inevitable. Why should I be scared of that?” Being alone just gave me something to really think about. And with shit going so wrong for me then, and with me constantly feeling like everything was f---ed and I couldn’t do anything right, the conclusion I came to was that I might as well just get it over with. F--- it.

I don’t remember too much about that particular day, but I know I was ready for it to be done. I was ready to get up out this bitch. So I went in my mother’s medicine cabinet and took all of her blood-pressure medication. I woke up on the bathroom floor with the ambulance parked outside and the paramedics trying to get me up and out the door. They took me to the hospital and gave me this stuff, ipecac, to clean out my stomach. I spent the whole next day puking my guts out. It was disgusting. I thought that shit was going to kill me! I was like, “Damn, you brought me all the way here to do me in like this?” You could have just left me on the floor and saved everyone a hell of a lot of trouble.

But of course the ipecac didn’t kill me. It probably saved my life. Once they knew my stomach was clear of all of the pills and I wasn’t going to die, they let me go. But then, the next day, my mama brought me back. I thought we were going for a follow-up, or a checkup or some shit, but then she just left me there, dropped me off on the mental-health floor of Houston International Hospital, and that became my life.

Courtesy of Dey Street and HarperCollins

See, it wasn’t like that was the first time I’d tried to kill myself. I’d been trying to take my own life for years. You name it, I’d tried it. Slitting my wrists with a box cutter and bleeding out all over the bathroom floor, putting loaded guns to my head, all of that shit. If you’d asked me then, I’d have told you straight up: I was ready to go. But I never did it. I never cut myself deep enough or far enough away from my family to be left alone to die. I never pulled the trigger. I never went all the way. That’s why I say that I think I really just wanted the attention. If you really want to go, 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.  

From the book Diary of a Madman: The Geto Boys, Life, Death, and the Roots of Southern Rap by Brad “Scarface” Jordan with Benjamin Meadows-Ingram. Copyright 2015 by Let’s Talk LLC. Reprinted by permission of Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

This story originally appeared in the April 18th issue of Billboard