The Geto Boys are true legends in hip-hop and in their hometown of Houston, Texas. The rap trifecta of Scarface, Willie D and the fun-loving sociopath Bushwick Bill brought terror and hardcore rhymes to the rap game.
Who can forget their grisly album cover of 'We Can’t Be Stopped’ featuring Bill on a hospital gurney with his eye shot out after attempting to commit suicide. Musically, when it came to detailing the violent-proned streets of the 5th Ward, the H-Town legends were unstoppable.
Although the Geto Boys never really achieved the multiplatinum success as their fellow rap peers, their street credibility and legacy in hip-hop remains secure to this day.
In honor of TVOne’s 'Unsung' episode on the Geto Boys, the Boombox presents Top 10 Geto Boys Songs.
To kick off this list, we have to start at the beginning. Originally, the Geto Boys were actually called "The Ghetto Boys" in 1988 and consisted of founding members Prince Johnny C, Jukebox Slim, DJ Ready Red and Bushwick Bill. On their debut album, 'Making Trouble,' they recorded a macabre song called 'Assassins,' which has been unofficially credited as the first horrocore rap song.
It’s a violetly disgusting track with its 808 drumbeat and 'Scarface' sample as Johnny C raps about shooting down a teacher and hacking up a prostitute with a chainsaw. True story: Jukebox Slim went to prison for murder not long after their debut album was released.
When rap mogul James "Lil J" Smith brought the Geto Boys to his independent label, Rap-A-Lot Records, he recruited 5th Ward rhymers Scarface and Willie D to replace Jukebox Slim, who was incarcerated, and Prince Johnny C who quit the group. 'Gangsta of Love' appeared on their classic 1989 debut album, 'Grip It! On That Other Level.' On the song, the new members identities were taking shape. Scarface was the unapologetic ladies man and street hustler while Willie D was the gangster stud.
'Gota Let Your Nuts Hang'
Scarface is often described as the misgynostic and unhinged rapper of the group — and he is — but he’s also one of the best hardcore rappers in the game. Proof of that is on 'Gota Let Your Nuts Hang,' in which 'Face spits abrasive lyrics about street hustling in the 5th Ward. Keep in mind that this song was recorded during the height of the Crack Era (circa 1989) so the subject matter is timely. Over a Bomb Squad-sounding production, the track is both cautionary and educational. It’s clear on this song why Scarface was such a captivating artist in hip-hop.
The Geto Boys were more than just a hardcore rap group they were socially conscious as well. 'Crooked Officer,' from their fifth album, 'Till Death Do Us Part,' features the trio addressing police brutality in the black community. The song also introduced Big Mike who became an unofficial member after Willie D left to pursue a solo career.
In 1996, Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill reunited for 'The Resurrection’ album after a three-year hiatus. The funky 'Still’ became a fan favorite after it was featured in the 1999 cult movie, 'Office Space.' Like most of the songs on the album, 'Still' was influenced by Dr. Dre’s production style with it's whining synthesizers and eerie soundscapes.
Coming in at No. 5, is the Geto Boy's horrific song, 'Mind of a Lunatic.' Over a guitar riff and a James Brown sample, Bushwick Bill, Scarface and Willie D spit gruesome tales of necrophilia, serial killings and murder, respectively. The song is undoubtedly the precursor to the group's classic song, 'Mind Playing Tricks On Me,' which appears later on this list.
It’s not far-fetched to say that the Geto Boys were a walking contradiction. On some of their songs, they gleefully talk about committing homicides, but then on other songs, the rappers urge people to stop the violence in the 'hood. But life is not perfect and neither are the Geto Boys. On 'Six Feet Deep,' the venerable group spit elegiac rhymes about friends and loved ones who lost their lives in the 5th Ward. Listen to 'Face, Bill and Big Mike relfect on life and death.
From their 2005 album, 'The Foundation,' 'Yes, Yes, Y’all,' features the H-Town legends reuniting for the second time. Scarface, Bill and Willie D haven’t lost their step as they remind fans why they are still the O.G.s of gangster rap. It also features Bill’s hilarious couplet, "They say the Beatles were the greatest / Man, f--- Paul and the rest of y’all."
'Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangsta'
This rare gem appeared on the greatest-hits compilation, 'Uncut Dope: Geto Boys' Best.' The song features Scarface and Bushwick Bill rapping about the virtues of being a gangster. In the accompanying video below, 'Face and Bill are on trial after a snitch planted drugs in their car. The duo smoothly testifies about their life in the 'hood to an unconvinced all-white jury. But thanks to Rap-A-Lot founder J. Prince’s connection to the White House, Scarface and Bushwick Bill were acquitted. Life is good.
'Mind Playing Tricks on Me'
Coming in at No. 1 is the Geto Boys’ 1991 classic track, 'Mind Playing Tricks on Me.' Undoubtedly, this is one of the greatest songs in hip-hop history, and 22 years after its release, it still never gets old.
On the song, Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill recount their grandiose delusions and paranoia. Credit also goes to the ingenious sample used -- 'Hung Up On My Baby' by Isaac Hayes -- which cradles the song perfectly. 'Mind Playing Tricks on Me' is the Geto Boys' first platinum-selling song and their only No. 1 hit on the Billboard Rap Singles Chart.