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Music / Geto Boys

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O.G.'s of the South.

Geto Boys (originally spelled Ghetto Boys) is a Hip-Hop group from Houston, Texas, consisting of Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill. The original Ghetto Boys consisted of Prince Johnny C, Sire Jukebox, DJ Ready Red and Little Billy, the dancer who later came to be known as Bushwick Bill. The group released a mostly unheard of album titled Making Trouble. The group broke up shortly after and a new line-up was put together with the inclusion of Scarface and Willie D, both aspiring solo artists.

The Geto Boys earned notoriety for their transgressive lyrics, which included depictions of gore, psychotic experiences, torture, sadistic and/or homicidal maniacs, necrophilia and misogyny, shaping Gangsta Rap and pretty much inventing Horrorcore. They also broke new ground with their soulful Southern sound (a precursor to the Dirty South style).

The group's 1990 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' graphic portrayal of rape, necrophilia, murder, explicit sex, cartoonish violence, and hostility toward women. The album, however, was actually a compilation, consisting mainly of ten tracks taken from its 1989 album Grip It! On That Other Level, as well as two new songs and one song from its debut LP, Making Trouble.

In the early part of the decade, several American politicians attacked gangsta emcees, including the Geto Boys (most famously Ice-T and N.W.A). A high-profile incident in which Bushwick Bill lost an eye in a shooting with his girlfriend helped boost sales of its third album, We Can't Be Stopped. The album cover had a 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. "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" became a hit in the hip-hop community.

All three members began solo careers, but Willie D. was the only one who actually left the group. Scarface and Bushwick Bill continued with the Geto Boys, adding Big Mike for Till Death Do Us Part in 1993. Although Till Death Do Us Part was certified gold it was not as well received by fans, as the lyrically gifted shoes of Willie D who also wrote for Bushwick, proved too big to fill for Big Mike. Subsequently, Big Mike was dropped and Willie D returned for 1996's critically acclaimed The Resurrection and 1998's Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly which Bushwick was not a part of. After years on hiatus, the group reunited to released its seventh album, The Foundation, in 2005. The Geto Boys were featured on Scarface's My Homies Part 2 album.

The Geto Boys' popularity was boosted somewhat in 1999 by the prominent use of two songs "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" (bonus song from the Greatest Hits Album Uncut Dope) and "Still" (from The Resurrection) in Mike Judge's 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. The song "Street Life" from the album 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.

The band did a rare performance as a reunion at the Smoke Out festival in San Bernardino, CA on October 23rd, 2009. The Geto Boys are credited as the group who put the south on the hip hop music map, and inspired a legion of acts including 2Pac, The Notorious B.I.G., UGK, T.I., Goodie Mob, OutKast, Chamillionaire, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Mystikal and others.

The group's name, Geto Boys, comes from a deliberate misspelling of the word Ghetto. For the first album Making Trouble (1988), and the second, Grip It! On That Other Level (1989), the spelling was the English standard "Ghetto Boys". For its third album and major-label debut, The Geto Boys (1990), they changed it to the "Geto" spelling, which the group has used since.

In 2019, Member Bushwick Bill sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 52.

Geto Boys are the Trope Namers for:

Tropes associated with the Geto Boys:

  • The Ace: "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" describes their individual idea of a perfect gangsta.
  • Ax-Crazy: Just about all of the murderers portrayed in their music.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: The ending skit in "I Just Wanna Die" has this happen...sort of. Willie clearly isn't holding the gun that Bill just used to shoot himself while he was driving, but the people in the car behind theirs seem to think that he was the one who pulled the trigger.note 
  • Broke Episode: "Ain't With Being Broke"
  • Call-Back: "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" opens with a line from "Mind Of A Lunatic".
    I sit alone in my four-cornered room starin' at candles... wait, with that shit on?
  • Cluster F-Bomb: And how.
  • Cop Killer: Plenty of the group's songs have had the members portray themselves as this.
  • Dead Man Honking: The aforementioned closing skit of "I Just Wanna Die". After Bill shoots himself with Willie's gun, their car veers off track and crashes, resulting in this.
  • Dead Man Writing: A few of their songs are implied to be narrated posthumously.
  • Death Seeker: "I Just Wanna Die"
  • Depraved Dwarf: Bushwick Bill. Be warned, cuz "Size Ain't Shit". He does his share of horror-rapping on tracks like "Chuckie" and "Murder Avenue".
  • Dirty Cop: "Crooked Officer"
  • Disproportionate Retribution: "Open Minded" has Willie stating he's going to kill the cops the next time he sees them...all because they confiscated his drugs.
    I've had enough of police, I ain't scared
    The next time I see the boys in blue, they gonna be the boys in red
    'Cause they gon' bleed, yes indeed
    Mothafuckas took my weed!
  • Driven to Suicide: "I Just Wanna Die" again. Both the lyrics and the song's final skit end with Bushwick Bill shooting himself in the head.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their debut album, Making Trouble, by the most part, is closer in style to Run-DMC's music than the sound they'd eventually be known for.
  • Eye Scream: Bushwick Bill's song "Ever So Clear" is about the incident where, drunk on Everclear and high on various drugs, he attacked his girlfriend and shot himself in the eye.
    And I'm glad that I'm here, G
    But it's fucked up I had to lose an eye
    To see shit clearly
  • Facial Horror: The cover of We Can't Be Stopped, taken while Bushwick was still in the hospital after shooting himself in the eye. The wound is shown unbandaged.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: In "Assassins", Johnny C (Bushwick on the 1991 remake) raps about murdering someone while butt naked.
  • Gangsta Rap: Type 3. Scarface as a solo act is more of a Type 4.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Uncut Dope (1992)
  • Grief Song: "Six Feet Deep"
  • He-Man Woman Hater: "I'm Not A Gentleman"
  • Horrorcore: Trope Codifier and arguable Ur-Example, despite what Esham would like you to think.
  • I Love the Dead: Or maybe not... a woman gets killed, THEN raped, in "Mind Of A Lunatic".
  • Intercourse with You: "Gangster Of Love", "This Dick's For You"
  • Lyrical Cold Open: Willie D, with a hearty "Don't say I didn't WARN YOU!", kicks off "Homie Don't Play That" like this.
  • Murder Ballad: Take your pick.
  • Myspeld Wrapgroop
  • No Presidents Were Harmed: The last verse in "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" is "a word from the President"... but the voice isn't really doing an impersonation of anyone (they may be alluding to George H. W. Bush, since the track was made in 1992 and the verse mentions "all you Republicans who helped me win").
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: "Read These Nikes"
  • No Indoor Voice: Willie D, most of the time.
  • Product Placement: Taken to a painful extreme in "Read These Nikes".
    "When I dispose of your ass like waste / and nothin' but my shoe is in your muthafuckin' face / You're readin' these Nikes"
  • Protest Song: "Fuck A War"
  • Refuge in Audacity: Hoo boy.
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Mind Playing Tricks On Me".
  • Shout-Out: To Scarface (1983), of course.
    • Public Enemy gets some praise from the Getos in "No Sellout" (on Grip It). A year later, PE would return the favor in "Reggie Jax" (on Fear of a Black Planet).
    • In "Chuckie", Bushwick compares himself to a certain murderous toy.
    • "Trigga Happy Nigga" starts with the intro to King Curtis' "Memphis Soul Stew", and one of the Geto Boys adapts Curtis' own spoken introduction to that song.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Damn, It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta." The lyrics, while still about things like gang violence and drug dealing, are significantly more positive than their regular fair, helped by a pleasant, laid-back groove.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: A variation of this happens at the end of "I Just Wanna Die". Bushwick wakes Willie and rants to him about his suicidal state of mind, prompting the latter to hand him a gun and call him on it. Unfortunately, Bushwick wasn't joking...