One of the most crucial and influential gangsta rap acts since the late ‘80s, Houston Texas’ Geto Boys have always played by their own rules, never selling out, always on that “other level of the game.” Still “not kissin’ no goddamn ass to be accepted” in 2015, it’s been a busy year for the three members of the most famous line-up of the group, Willie D, Scarface, and Bushwick Bill.
Left to right: Willie D, Scarface, Bushwick Bill
Scarface just released an autobiography, Diary of a Madman: The Geto Boys, Life, Death, and the Roots of Southern Rap, Willie D has been writing an advice column for Houston Press, and Bushwick Bill has recently teamed back up with them both for a full US tour. Earlier this week, the Geto Boys announced plans to record a new album.
It’s general Dangerous Minds policy to avoid reporting on Kickstarters, but it’s worth noting that among the “rewards” being offered by the Geto Boys for donating to the recording costs of their new album are: a night of barhopping with Bushwick Bill, a round of golf with Scarface, or—if you have the big bucks—a custom-designed Geto Boys coffin.
I’ve been a fan of the Geto Boys since the release of their transgressive Grip It on That Other Level album. My personal discovery of the Geto Boys came about as a result of already being a huge fan of Willie D’s 1989 solo Rap-a-lot Records recording, Controversy. I’m not entirely certain why Controversy came to be one of my favorite rap releases—or quite possibly—ACTUALLY MY FAVORITE RAP ALBUM EVER. There’s certainly better-produced and more thoughtfully-written albums out there for sure. I guess it was one of those time and place events. Willie D had a surprising number of unexpected fans in the punk scene I came up in. It may have been a combination of the overall envelope-pushing filthiness of the lyrics and the stripped-down DIY-sounding production, or the seemless blending of the politics of groups like Public Enemy, the gangsterism of groups like NWA and the sheer sexual nastiness of groups like 2 Live Crew. Somehow the mixed bag works—or at least it worked for me in 1989. Never released on vinyl, except for a DJ twelve inch sampler of some tracks (if you have one to sell, get at me!), I’ve worn through three copies of the original cassette on Rap-a-lot.
The album on which Mr. D proposes a bill to Capitol Hill to kill all bald-headed women at will.
So it came to be one of the more memorable nights of my life when, a week ago, I FINALLY got to see Willie D and the Geto Boys live on stage—and being right up front, singing along (with most of the audience), at some point I yelled out “Whatcha see D?” and Willie D looked down. The DJ cued up the “Dragnet” intro music and I yelled “y’all thought this was Dragnet, didn’t ya! Wrong answer again!” And then, unbelievably, the “Underground Master” himself pulled me up on stage to sing “Bald Headed Hoes” (Controversy‘s most notorious cut) with him. Luckily those lyrics are branded upon my brain and came out effortlessly, because the whole time I was onstage with the Geto Boys I was thinking “how the fuck is this happening?!”
But even without that, it would have still been an unforgettable night, because the Geto Boys were ON FIRE. Their current live show is a “don’t miss” event, and I can attest from the personal interactions I witnessed, that the Geto Boys care deeply about their fans. I would never suggest that the Geto Boys, now certainly Geto Men, have mellowed with age, but the three “ghetto soldiers” appear remarkably more thoughtful, dare I say, sagelike in 2015. I can’t say if the hardest out, trigger-happy, motherfuckin’ Geto Boys are still looking to win Fifth Ward murder contests, but they’re definitely still willing to cuss their asses off for your daughters and sons. If you have an opportunity to see them on this tour, don’t sleep.
Although Willie D states (jokingly?) in a recent Rolling Stone interview, “We fuckin’ hate each other, man. It’s like, ‘Motherfucker, I don’t even wanna be onstage with you. Can we put up three stages, man? I’ll sing my verse, you sing your verse,’” there didn’t seem to be a bit of animosity between him or Scarface or Bushwick onstage. They appeared to be having a blast with each other. Bushwick Bill went all-in, destroying a printer with a baseball bat, in homage to the infamous Office Space printer massacre scene (which features the Geto Boys song “Still”).
Bushwick Bill, pictured here after being shot in the eye by his girlfriend in the Summer of 1991. The group took this rare opportunity to take publicity photos, using one image from the hospital photo shoot for the cover of their 1991 album “We Can’t Be Stopped.”
The most “what the fuck” moment of the show, however, came from the “Mastermind of Wreckin’ Shit,” Scarface, who—out of nowhere—suddenly decided it was time to bust into the theme from All in the Family. Thankfully a quick-thinking audience member with a handy cellphone was able to capture (at least the last part of) this baffling moment. At the end of the clip you even hear Willie D actually say “what the fuck?!”
“When goils were goils and men was men.”
Scarface has a history of breaking with the conventions of his hardcore gangsta rap image. As well as being an avid golfer, his Facebook page often features uploaded videos of himself playing soft-rock jams like “Hotel California” and “Landslide” on acoustic guitar.
Still, we’re filing this one under “weird shit we never thought we’d see at a Geto Boys concert,” or better yet, under “playing by their own rules, never selling out, and always being on that ‘other level of the game.’”
Here’s the Geto Boys taking it to that other level and doing Archie and Edith Bunker like a G.O.:
H/T Instagram user juxtaposedjs