Straight out of Houston’s notorious fifth ward, the Geto Boys put Southern hip-hop on the map, while taking the music into uncharted and shocking realms of graphic violence, derangement, misogyny and truth. Their break-out hit, Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me, mixed Hitchcock with N.W.A., resulting in a hypnotic portrait of thug-life paranoia that rode an irresistible groove to underground and then, mainstream success — turning the Geto Boys into legends overnight.
The trio had an unusual and volatile chemistry; Scarface wrote about ghetto psychosis with an eerie sensitivity and calm, ex-boxer Willie D hit with hardcore raps about women, politics and an assortment of chumps, while Bushwick Bill added an element of unpredictability and real-time danger, even to his own detriment. Some of their songs were so extreme that Geffen Records refused to distribute them with a warning label.
But the controversy only fueled the rappers’ underground rep, and they eventually ascended to the top of the charts, and the scene. And though Scarface went on to become one of hip-hops all-time greats, and Willie D and Bushwick Bill have enjoyed individual success, as well as a group that they made their historic mark, changing the content—and landscape– of hip-hop forever.