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Mouth of the Dirty South

The Geto Boys showed the nation hip-hop with real staying power

Willie D had served time for a gas-station holdup; Scarface had sold drugs in his teen years and in '93 was wounded by a security guard in Louisiana during a shoot-out between rival gangs. And Bushwick Bill, the dwarf who made it big, had one eye shot out by a girlfriend in '91. In fact, the Geto Boys used a photo of him -- bloody stump of an eye and all -- being pushed on a gurney into the emergency room on the cover of the CD that delivered "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" to the nation. (Rolling Stone named it the worst album cover of the year -- hell, it's easily the most disturbing of all time.)

Later, Scarface launched a successful solo career, cementing Houston's reputation as a hip-hop city. Thanks to the groundbreaking efforts of these Houstonians, Atlanta and New Orleans quickly followed, and by the mid-'90s the Dirty South was a sound and a commodity as well as a reality, and today it is the top rap region in the country.

And how does Geto Boy Willie D feel about being one of the godfathers of the genre? "Oh, you want a quote? Put this in quotations," he says. "Fuck you, pay me."

He's kidding -- a little bit.

"It's always good to set a precedent, to be a pioneer in any kind of movement," he says. "I humbly appreciate the gratitude. But I'm caught up in the 'right now.' I've been amazed at our shows this year by the warm reception we've gotten from the people our age, down to the kids who were in elementary school when that shit came out. It's people from every race, gender, age and socioeconomic status."

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