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Though the controversial subject matter of gangsta rap wasn't much of a barrier to popular success during the '90s, the Geto Boys' recordings proved almost too extreme for widespread exposure. Blocked from distributing their 1990 major-label debut by Geffen -- who insisted that a track dealing with necrophilia as well as murder was a step too far -- the group was saved by producer Rick Rubin, who arranged another distributor for the album, released on his own Def American label. The controversy, which occurred two years earlier than similar censorship incidents involving Ice-T and 2 Live Crew, gave the Geto Boys a large amount of publicity. Their follow-up, We Can't Be Stopped, eventually hit platinum, though the trio of Scarface, Willie D., and Bushwick Bill began to fracture by 1993. After releasing solo albums during the mid-'90s, the Geto Boys reunited in 1996 for their most praised album yet, The Resurrection.
When the Geto Boys came together in 1986, though, it was with a completely different lineup. Formed as the Ghetto Boys in Houston by rap entrepreneur James "Lil' J" Smith (and signed to his Rap-A-Lot label), the group originally consisted of Prince Johnny C., the Slim Jukebox, and DJ Reddy Red. During 1987-1988, both Johnny C. and the Jukebox quit, forcing Smith to add a dwarf-dancer-turned-rapper named Bushwick Bill (born Richard Shaw, Jamaica) and two Rap-A-Lot solo acts: Ackshen (aka Scarface born Brad Jordan, Houston) and Willie 'D' Dennis (born Houston).
After the Geto Boys' Grip It! On That Other Level caught the ear of hip-hop impresario Rick Rubin (LL Cool J, Beastie Boys), Rubin re-mixed and re-recorded tracks from the album. He was ready to release it on his Def American label in 1990 when distributor Geffen balked at "Mind of a Lunatic," a track which described necrophilia with a murder victim. By late 1990, Rubin had found another distributor, Giant Records, and the album was released -- as The Geto Boys -- that same year.
The Geto Boys' association with controversy was far from over, though; rap groups were a hot topic for moral-minded politicians during the early '90s, and several leaders used the Geto Boys as an example to decry the state of modern music. The fires were fanned in 1991 with the release of the group's second proper LP, We Can't Be Stopped. Before the release of the album, Bushwick Bill had lost an eye in a shooting incident with his girlfriend, and the cover featured Willie D. and Scarface wheeling Bill into an emergency room, with a prominent shot of the damaged eye. Inside the album, proceedings were among the most extreme in the history of recorded music. Obviously, radio airplay was non-existent, but We Can't Be Stopped still went platinum in early 1992 -- thanks to the Top Ten R&B single "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," one of the most effective inner-city vignettes in hip-hop history.
By 1993, all three members had begun solo careers, though Willie D. was the only one completely separated from the band, citing artistic differences. Scarface and Bill continued with new member Big Mike, releasing Till Death Do Us Part in 1993, but split late in 1994. Just one year later, Willie D. returned to the fold for another Geto Boys release, The Resurrection, which showed the group in fine form. Now it was Bushwick Bill's turn to leave the group. DMG took his place for 1998's Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly but returned for the group's 2005 reunion album, The Foundation.
Wikipedia:This article is about hip hop group. For their self-titled album, see The Geto Boys (album).
Geto Boys (originally spelled Ghetto Boys) is a rap group from Houston, Texas, consisting of Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill. The Geto Boys have earned notoriety for their lyrics which cover controversial topics such as misogyny, gore, psychotic experiences, and necrophilia.
About.com ranked them No. 10 on its list of the 25 Best Rap Groups of All-Time, describing them as "southern rap pioneers who paved the way for future southern hip-hop acts."Adaso, Henry. "25 Best Rap Groups of All-Time". About.com. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
The original "Ghetto Boys" consisted first of Raheem, The Sire Jukebox, and Sir Rap-A-Lot. When Raheem and Sir Rap-A-Lot left, the group added DJ Ready Red, Prince Johnny C, and Little Billy (the dancer who later came to be known as Bushwick Bill). The first single the group released was "Car Freak" in 1986, which then followed with two LPs "You Ain't Nothin'/I Run This" in 1987, and "Be Down" in 1988. The group released their debut album in 1988 entitled, Making Trouble. With the release receiving very little attention, the group broke up shortly thereafter and a new line-up was put together with the inclusion of Scarface and Willie D, both aspiring solo artists. This new line-up recorded the 1989 album, Grip It! On That Other Level. The group's 1990 self-titled album, The Geto Boys, caused Def American Recordings, the label to which the group was signed at the time, to switch distributors from Geffen Records to Warner Bros. Records (with marketing for the album done by WB sister label Giant Records) because of controversy over the lyrics.
In the early 1990s, several American politicians attacked rap artists associated with the subgenre gangsta rap, including the Geto Boys. A high-profile incident in which Bushwick Bill lost an eye in a shooting helped boost sales of the group's 1991 album, We Can't Be Stopped. The album cover features a graphic picture of the injured Bushwick being carted through a hospital by Scarface and Willie D. On the album's title track, the group responded to Geffen Records ending its distribution deal with Def American. The album featured the single, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me", which became a big hit in the hip-hop community and charted at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After Willie D left the group, Scarface and Bushwick Bill continued with the Geto Boys with the addition of Big Mike who made his debut appearance with the group on 1993's album, Till Death Do Us Part. Although Till Death Do Us Part was certified gold, it was not as well received by fans. However, the album did spawn one top 40 hit in "Six Feet Deep" which peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequently, Big Mike was dropped and Willie D returned for 1996's critically acclaimed The Resurrection, and the 1998 followup Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly, of which Bushwick Bill was not a part. After three years on hiatus, the group reunited in 2002 to record its seventh album, The Foundation, which was released on January 25, 2005. The Geto Boys were featured on Scarface's My Homies Part 2 album.
The song "Street Life" from Till Death Do Us Part was featured on the motion picture South Central. A video clip for the song with footage from the film was released. Although the band rarely releases albums or perform together currently, the group came together for a reunion at Cypress Hill's SmokeOut festival in San Bernardino, CA on October 23, 2009. In 2010, Bushwick Bill was threatened with deportation to Jamaica. In 2012, the Geto Boys will release a song with the Insane Clown Posse on The Mighty Death Pop!'s "White Pop" bonus album "Mike E. Clark's Extra Pop Emporium". The song would actually be an extended Geto Boys remix on the song "Forever". They will also make a live performance together in the 13th Annual Gathering of the Juggalos."geto boys street life". YouTube. 2007-04-19. Retrieved 2012-03-31. "The World Famous KROQ - Alt Rock Music News, Photos, Videos, Concerts". Kroq-data.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. Carroll, Susan. "Houston's own Geto Boy faces deportation." Houston Chronicle. July 19, 2010. Retrieved on July 20, 2010.
Lyrics and influence
The group's name, Geto Boys, comes from a deliberate misspelling of the word "ghetto". For its first two albums, Making Trouble (1988) and Grip It! On That Other Level (1989), the spelling was the English standard "Ghetto Boys". For their third album, The Geto Boys, they changed it to the "Geto" spelling, which the group has used since. The Geto Boys' lyrics push gangsta rap themes to extremes, and sometimes focus on murder, explicit sex, and violence. The group is credited for putting the South on the hip hop music map and inspired a legion of acts, including 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, UGK, T.I., Goodie Mobb, OutKast, 50 Cent, Chamillionaire, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Juvenile, Mystikal, Esham and Insane Clown Posse. Insane Clown Posse's Violent J (Joseph Bruce) described the Geto Boys as the first rappers to perform horrorcore, with their song "Assassins", released on their debut album, Making Trouble. Bruce says that the Geto Boys continued to pioneer the style with their second release Grip It! On That Other Level, with songs such as "Mind of a Lunatic" and "Trigga-Happy Nigga".
The Geto Boys' popularity was boosted somewhat in 1999 by the prominent use of two songs—"Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" (released as a promotional single for the 1992 compilation album Uncut Dope) and "Still" (from The Resurrection) in Mike Judge's comedy satire film Office Space, now considered a cult classic. The song "Mind of a Lunatic" has been covered by many recording acts including Marilyn Manson in 2003, as a B-side off the album The Golden Age of Grotesque. The single "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" has also been covered by the band Aqueduct and country singer Carter Falco. Their song "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto V on the radio station "West Coast Classics" despite the fact the group is not from the West Coast.
The Geto Boys are also heavily influenced by the social politics of the day. Their lyrics have consistently included themes ranging from police brutality (such as in "Crooked Officer") to concerns over the negative impact of violence on the urban community (such as "The World Is a Ghetto", "Geto Fantasy", and "Six Feet Deep").Bruce, Joseph; Hobey Echlin (August 2003). "The Dark Carnival". In Nathan Fostey. ICP: Behind the Paint (second ed.). Royal Oak, Michigan: Psychopathic Records. pp. 174–185. ISBN 0-9741846-0-8. Joseph Bruce (performer) (2010-06-08). The Opening (song). Hatchet House/Psychopathic Records. Event occurs at 0:54. Much love to Cube, Awesome Dre, The Geto Boys, and Esham / for making us want to be rappers, self employed, and the bomb Weingarten, Christopher (October 28, 2011). "Insane Clown Posse's Violent J Picks 11 Horrorcore Classics". Spin. Retrieved 4 November 2011. "Geto Boys - Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangster (CD) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-03-31. "Aqueduct - "Damn it Feels Good to Be a Gangster"". YouTube. Retrieved 2007-12-21.