Hip-hop controversialists from Houston's notorious Fifth Ward. With the 1988 album Making Trouble, the Ghetto Boys' (the spelling slip came later) set a new standard in recorded violence; their raps evoked slasher-movie series like Child's Play, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street rather than their gangsta peers.
National notoriety came in 1990 when the band signed to Rick Rubin's Def American label; the resulting Geto Boys album (largely rehashes of old songs) was deemed so offensive by Def American's then-partner Geffen that the company refused to distribute it.
The cover of the next, platinum Geto Boys' album, We Can't Be Stopped (1991), bore an abiding image of the group: a documentary photo in which band members push a hospital gurney bearing the 54-inch frame of band member Bushwick Bill (b. Richard Shaw, circa 1967).
The latter talks into a cellular phone despite a horrific eye injury incurred after he asked his girlfriend to shoot him. Ironically, the album yielded the pop hit "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," a record whose soulful, reflective mood Scarface (b. Brad Jordan, 1970) carried over into his solo career. In 1995 Bushwick Bill changed his name to Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir for his album Phantom of the Rapra.
The Geto Boys came together in 1986 at the hands of Houston, Texas native James Smith. The original lineup of the gangsta rap collective consisted of rappers Raheim, Jukebox, DJ Ready Red, and Sir Rap-A-Lot. The group also featured Little Billy, a dancing dwarf who later joined full-time as Bushwick Bill.
Following a short break-up in 1988, Smith called on local rhymers Willie D and multi-instrumentalist Akshun (later known as Scarface) to join the lineup. Scarface, Bushwick Bill, Willie D. and Ready Red recorded their first albums, Making Trouble and Geto Boys/Grip It! On That Other Level in the late '80s.
Released on Rap-A-Lot Records, their debut established the Geto Boys as one of rap's most infamous. Songs like "Do It Like a G.O." and "Mind of a Lunatic" drew negative media attention for their crassness (themes like necrophilia, murder, and sexual violence were abundant).
Def Jam Recordings' Rick Rubin soon came to the rescue and distributed their albums through Giant Records. Shortly before their third album, We Can't Be Stopped, DJ Ready Red left the group. Despite a lack of publicity from promoters, the album went gold by the end of the year and later reached platinum status.
The Geto Boys continued on a winning streak with a series of solo albums and 1993's Till Death Do Us Part, despite the loss of member Willie D (he was replaced with Big Mike). A "best of" release titled, Uncut Dope was also successful, with the original single, "Damn It Feels Good To Be a Gangster." Still, the members decided to call it quits and pursue their solo careers. In 1996, they regrouped (minus Ready Red and Big Mike) and released The Resurrection and, most recently in '98, Willie D and Scarface released Da Good, Da Bad, Da Ugly.
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