For all most of the world knows, hip-hop in Houston began with the Geto Boys. The facts don’t bear out that legend, but there’s a ring of truth to it nonetheless. Before Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince plugged stars-in-waiting Willie D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill into a stalled-out group backed by DJ Ready Red, the words “Houston rappers” rarely came up outside of a few inner-city high schools. But when the Geto Boys dropped Grip It! On That Other Level in 1989 and then followed it up with We Cant Be Stopped, rap fans, record labels and cultural critics across the country were forced to address the fact that H-Town was home to some of the best and most fearless rappers on the planet.
Throughout their 28-year, on-and-off career together, the Geto Boys have often had to struggle to be heard. Their lyrics were so shocking, so gleefully violent and sexist, that there was very little chance of their best stuff ever finding a home on MTV or radio. Ultimately, their voices were too loud to ignore, even if their antisocial rhymes often slipped right through the cracks in the mainstream.
Since there currently appears to be no new music from the group on the horizon, maybe now is as good a time as any to catch our breath and re-examine a few of the deep cuts. And the shallow cuts. Fuck it: Let’s examine all the cuts! Art Tavana at LA Weekly recently took the time (and the drugs, presumably) to rank every single one of Guns N’ Roses' recorded songs, apart from those on The Spaghetti Incident? (for obvious reasons). It was a totally cool idea, so like a G.O., we’re jacking that shit. Besides, as the lyrics on We Can’t Be Stopped make clear, the Geto Boys never liked it when Axl got the spotlight instead of them.
I’ve tried to take into account each song’s history, contributors and cultural legacy, but mostly I tried to consider each song’s dopeness. Its realness. Its replayability. This is how they stack up. So strap up — it’s time to ride, fool.
97. “The Unseen” – Uncut Dope: Geto Boys’ Best (1992)
“The Unseen” is a nasty, murderous anti-abortion screed, assigning sole blame to the “bitches” without much mention of how they became pregnant. Bushwick Bill gets an extra dig in on gays, too, because fuck ‘em, I guess. This gross, dated track from Uncut Dope also happened to be the public’s first taste of the Geto Boys’ newest member, Big Mike, who stepped in to replace Willie D briefly. His flow is actually pretty nice here, but he’s still very much Big Mike and not Willie D. And the subject matter makes this song flat-out unjammable.
96. “The Problem” – Making Trouble (1988)
This is an awfully slight little song. “The Problem” is basically just a few last Scarface samples and a funky hi-hat upon which to end the Ghetto Boys’ forgotten debut. It unmemorably succeeds on those modest terms.
95. “You Ain’t Nothin’” – Making Trouble (1988)
At least half of Making Trouble is pretty wack, but this song is the corniest of the bunch. In a move that must have made Chuck D gag somewhere, the Geto Boys actually sample Elvis for a swingin’ rock and roll feel. Skip.
94. “Why Do We Live This Way” — Making Trouble (1988)
The Making Trouble mediocrity continues with this thudding ripoff of “The Message.” Pure filler.
93. “Ghetto Boys Will Rock You” – Making Trouble (1988)
Ghetto Boys will rock me? This weak-ass dreck makes that proposition pretty difficult to believe. A sincere lack of credibility kind of defines Making Trouble, as this song’s failure to rock anyone ever illustrates perfectly.
92. “This Dick’s for You” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
I suppose this is what passes for a Geto Boys love song. Sure, they’re proffering their penile availability in the most sexist and demeaning manner available to them, but at least they’re not actively threatening violence against women. That’s a positive step. Oh, whoops, I just checked again, and Bushwick raps about throwing a woman in a ditch (it rhymes with “unsanitary bitch”). This one’s not super-good, then, I guess.
91. “No Curfew” – Making Trouble (1988)
The Beastie Boys probably should have sued J. Prince for royalties when they heard this track. It does at least contain an AstroWorld shout-out, which is enough to make it not the worst song on Making Trouble.
90. “No Nuts No Glory” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
No nuts, no glory? That really shouldn’t have been Big Mike’s motto here, since his nuts were never up to the task of filling out Willie D’s jockstrap. He’s a talented rapper, sure, but nobody had this track circled on the back of their cassette tape.
89. “I Run This” – Making Trouble (1988)
Another Making Trouble track that’s spirited, but ultimately derivative and forgettable. Simply put, this incarnation of the Geto Boys wasn’t running a damn thing by aping the East Coast masters.
88. “Snitches” – Making Trouble (1988)
Snitches have always been one of the Geto Boys’ favorite targets, and this track gets points for introducing them as the enemy. It does not, however, advocate murdering snitches, which means it’s a lot less focused and rather less cool than most other Geto Boys songs.
87. “The Secret” – The Foundation (2005)
While it does feature some strong lyrical performances, the Geto Boys’ only 21st-century album doesn’t feature production work quite up to par with their best stuff. Or their medium stuff, really. The vibraphone line on “The Secret” is a little too soft for my tastes. These are supposed to be the Geto Boys.
86. “One Time Freestyle” – Making Trouble (1988)
An eerie Twilight Zone sample makes this track stand out a bit on Making Trouble. James Brown is in there, too. In fact, “James Brown caught in the Twilight Zone” is a pretty decent description of the Geto Boys’ early sound.
85. “Murder After Midnight” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
The Geto Boys’ songs about jackin’ and stabbin’ are usually the most fun. This one mostly falls flat. Having Big Mike start it off probably wasn’t the best choice, but it’s tough to come in hard when you’ve lost your Willie.
84. “Dirty Bitch” – The Foundation (2005)
Bushwick Bill has some severe trust issues with women. And anger issues. Bushwick Bill’s just got issues, man. He capably lays out a lot of his resentment toward the opposite sex on this track, and it certainly feels true to life. It’s just kind of a bummer.
83. “Gun In My Mouth” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This was a halfway decent Geto Boys track that I couldn’t remember ever hearing. Then I realized that it’s the final song on Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly. Who ever listens to that album all the way through? Guests the Outlawz steal the song here, and basically, they can have it.
82. “Street Game” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
An uninspired opening verse prevented any hope of this song climbing out of the ’80s. Most of Da Good… is uninspired, sure, but most of it is still better than this one, too.
81. “Nothing 2 Show” – The Foundation (2005)
“Nothing to Show” is a decent latter-day Willie D solo track, centering around his beloved jacker stories. Nothing much wrong with it, but he’s got better stuff than this.
80. “Rebel Rap Family” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
“Rebel Rap Family” isn’t much more than a musical intro to We Can’t Be Stopped sampling Giorgio Morodor’s theme from Scarface. Which, hey, that’s cool. It’s still better than most of Making Trouble.
79. “Why U Playin’” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
Willie D, Scarface and Doracell trade threats over funk guitar here. It’s fine, but not nearly good enough to propel Doracell to stardom the way J. Prince obviously hoped it might.
78. “Punk-Bitch Game” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
Only the Geto Boys could make enticing the females and males in a crowd to chant “punk” and “bitch” at each other sound this much fun. This isn’t even a song, really. It’s more of a snapshot of the weird, crackling energy at a Geto Boys concert — the kind you can’t find anywhere else.
77. “Leanin’ on You” – The Foundation (2005)
This track is most notable for Bushwick Bill’s verse, which details the way that he leans on God to survive his difficult, crazy life. But even Willie D sounds almost vulnerable over the smooth R&B here. That makes it interesting, but not as much fun as the really good stuff.
76. “Retaliation” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
Scarface and friends tee off on a heavy, bouncy beat on this short, penultimate track of Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly. It’s tough, but it doesn’t quite feel like the Geto Boys — probably because Willie D and Bushwick are nowhere to be found.
75. “Dawn 2 Dusk” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
The opening track of Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly tries to come out hard, but it pales in comparison to other openers — especially “Still” or “Do It Like a G.O.” In comparison (which is kinda what we’re doing here), “Dawn 2 Dusk” falls a bit flat. But don’t worry, those two are coming up in due time.
74. “I Tried” – The Foundation (2005)
This song manages to be a semi-successful stab at soulfulness from the Boys, which is nice, I guess. Except “soulful” never has been and never will be the Getos’ best setting. Still, they get credit for stretching a bit here. Hey, they tried.
73. “Thugg Niggaz” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
Good news, y’all, Doracell is back! He and the Boys break off a few Tupac-inflected verses over a nice skank from the Police (the “Roxanne” guys, not them hated laws). ‘Pac even gets a posthumous shout-out.
72. “We Boogie” – The Foundation (2005)
“We Boogie” is a perfectly acceptable head-nodder from The Foundation letting the rest of us know that real G's don’t dance. They boogie. Seems like kind of a fine line, to be honest, but I’m pretty sure not a lot of people ever danced to this song, so the theme fits.
71. “Bitches & Ho’s” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
The Geto Boys have had plenty to say over the years on the topic of bitches and hoes, however one chooses to define them. Usually, their thoughts are accompanied by something a little tastier than these late-'90s string and harpsichord synth lines. The Getos might’ve been in total autopilot mode, but the bitches still probably deserve better than this.
70. “Murder Avenue” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
Bushwick Bill’s solo raps full of rape, murder and cannibalism are always good fun, as fucked up as that is to type. But this one might be his most forgettable. The hacking up of women just feels a tad too perfunctory this time out.
69. “Raise Up” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
Here’s another Scarface solo joint that proves his time probably could’ve been better spent working on a solo record rather than trying to sell a version of the Geto Boys with no Willie D. It’s hardly his best stuff, but it holds up nicely because of his ultra-talented flow.
68. “Livin’ 4 the Moment” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This song probably would’ve been ranked a bit lower if not for Willie’s shout-out to the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes. Nevertheless, it features some tasty quick-beat production from ‘Face.
67. “Declaration of War” – The Foundation (2005)
The most outstanding thing about this song is that it’s the first one off The Foundation, the Geto Boys’ first release in years. Like most of the rest of the record, the production work ain’t killer. But, goddammit, the Geto Boys were back.
66. “I Don’t Fuck With You” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
“I Don’t Fuck With You” suffers from being overstuffed with guests — a common problem with songs from …Da Ugly. But there are some real nice flows from ‘Face and Willie, here, anyway — even if it doesn’t quite feel like their song.
65. “Gangsta (Put Me Down)” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This song gets points for the sheer novelty of having Beyoncé and LaTavia (remember her?) from Destiny’s Child helping out on an explicit track that samples that longtime favorite of pre-teen stoners, “Pass the Dutchie.” Not exactly sure whose career that collab was supposed to help out, but some of the participants have done better than others since.
64. “Straight Gangstaism” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
Mr. 3-2 appears here to help prop up his ex-partner Big Mike, and the song is good enough to make you wish they'd never split up. Although, to be fair, most songs make me wish they’d never split up, because maybe then Big Mike wouldn’t have been chumped as a replacement Geto Boy.
63. “Quickie” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
The Geto Boys’ sexual boasts were never much to write home about, unless they also included serial murder — which they frequently did. “Quickie” doesn’t feature any bloodshed to speak of, but it does live up to its name and passes a couple of minutes pleasantly enough.
62. “Niggas and Flies” – The Resurrection (1996)
“Niggas and Flies” is a pretty standard bit of G-funk from the Geto Boys’ funkiest album. Not spectacular, no, but this list might well be starting to trend in the right direction here, folks.
61. “Big Faces” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This one is a nice Scarface track about chasing skrill on the streets, with an okay appearance by Yukmouth, one of the more accomplished MCs to guest on this album. “Big faces” never quite caught on as slang for large-denomination currency, but it’s clever enough to work here.
60. “Do Yo Time” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
The Ghetto Twins help out Scarface on this hard-hitting variation on the classic “no snitchin’” theme. Is it a Geto Boys song? Debatable. But it’s mostly enjoyable on its own merits.
59. “G.E.T.O.” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
This leadoff track serves as a fairly decent and appropriately hard-hitting intro for Big Mike, who had some pretty big Nikes to fill. ‘Face and Bushwick are on point, too, making it one of the Big Mike era’s top tunes. You know…for what that’s worth.
58. “I Just Wanna Die” – The Resurrection (1996)
This is a standout track for Bushwick Bill. Over harrowing production, the oft-troubled dwarf sounds like he’s all alone in a haunted house, except that haunted house ain’t a fantasy — it’s his regular, everyday life. “I Just Wanna Die” is certainly real enough; Bushwick’s obvious pain is compelling. It’s just not very much fun to listen to.
57. “Real Nigga Shit” – The Foundation (2005)
This heavy, woozy number boasts the most mind-bending production work on The Foundation, an album often lacking in that department. That’s enough to make it stand out a bit, even if it’s not an all-time classic by any stretch.
56. “They Bitches” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This track kicks off with a fairly slight verse from Scarface, but a couple of nice, angry verses from Willie D salvage it. Nobody’s righteous anger is more furious than his. Solid.
55. “Point of No Return” – The Resurrection (1996)
For the Geto Boys, “politics” has usually been just another word for “race war.” Rock-hard trade-offs here between Willie and ‘Face make them seem more than ready to throw down with the more evil facets of white America’s system of power and oppression.
54. “Blind Leading the Blind” – The Resurrection (1996)
“Blind Leading the Blind” is another solid track from The Resurrection, but the heavy presence of Menace Clan makes it feel like something other than a straight Geto Boys song. Halfway through, in fact, The Resurrection starts to sound like just a good hip-hop album rather than a classic Geto Boys effort. Thankfully, that’s all worked out by the end of the disk.
53. “Free” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This breezy little number almost feels slightly uplifting, if you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. With no guest rappers shoehorned in, this is just Scarface and Willie tag-teaming as few can do. Might’ve been nice to hear what a whole album of that could have sounded like.
52. “When it Gets Gangsta” – The Foundation (2005)
Z-Ro has appeared on releases by virtually every Houston hip-hopper of any note, so it was only a matter of time before he showed up on a Geto Boys record. He’s relegated to the hook here, which feels like a wasted opportunity. But his mean mug fits right in regardless.
51. “The Answer to Baby (Mary II)” – Greatest Hits (2002)
This one’s really just a Scarface song, taking back the sample of “Mary Jane” that Ashanti used in her song “Baby.” It was added to Greatest Hits just so Rap-A-Lot could claim the record included something new, but it’s still pretty damn good, even if it’s no “Mary Jane.”
50. “Like Some Ho’s” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
This smoothed-out slab of R&G benefits greatly from the presence of Facemobster Devin the Dude, who’s always kind of been a better authority on hoes than the Geto Boys. Trunk-worthy, assuming you can handle a healthy dose of the usual sexism.
49. “Cereal Killer” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
Probably the most light-hearted track on Till Death Do Us Part. Here, Scarface makes murder impossible to take seriously by rattling off a list of breakfast-cereal mascots who crossed his path. R.I.P. Cap’n Crunch.
48. “Bring it On” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
This song is kind of a crowded mess, but it’s also your only opportunity to hear H-Town legends Big Mello and the Odd Squad on a Geto Boys record. They’re pretty much the highlight of “Bring it On,” but it’s a fairly significant highlight, you’ll agree.
47. “Hold it Down” – The Resurrection (1996)
The spotlight-stealing Facemob robs this track of some of its essential Geto-ness, but it’s got a tight groove produced by Scarface and Mike Dean, and the protégés rap like they’ve got something to prove. Another solid tune from The Resurrection.
46. “Yes, Yes, Y’all” – The Foundation (2005)
The weak production work endemic to The Foundation is again in evidence on this song, but a strong first verse from Bushwick Bill gives it the feel of classic Geto Boys. Undeniably, it was good to have the little guy back in the fold.
45. "Life in the Fast Lane" – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
The tunes are starting to get pretty dope now, people. Over a funky wah pedal and a damn harmonica, Scarface hits us with some frank drug-game rhymes. It’s heavy, it’s violent, it’s danceable — the sound of a group hitting its stride.
44. “What?” – The Foundation (2005)
Even in the 2000s, the Geto Boys still have a mean streak to them. “What?” is hard as hell, with mean verses, mean beats and a mean message that finds all three Boys mercilessly beating up on their traditional enemies. This is what the people want.
43. “The Other Level” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
A genuine gangsta-rap banger starring the nasty sexual adventures of one Bushwick Bill. “The Other Level” is loud, shrill and funky, and the slurping sound effects are still funny.
42. “We Can’t Be Stopped” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
As hard as it gets — full of F-bombs toward the record-industry execs and media who wanted nothing more than for the Geto Boys to just go away. Well, they’re still here, and this drum track still squashes heads.
41. "Trigga-Happy Nigga" – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
An ounce of that ether, Fifth-Ward bass, a half a key of uncut drums, and a pound of them horns with red-hot sass in ‘em — cut with the trigga-happy, motherfuckin’ Geto Boys! J. Prince’s intro on this song helped make him more than that group’s mastermind; he feels like a full-fledged member. The last one you wanna cross.
40. “Trophy” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
The Geto Boys were thoroughly unimpressed with Guns N’ Roses back in ’91. They called out the biggest band in the world on “We Can’t Be Stopped,” and again here, insulted at the very idea that anyone would be honored with an award before Willie D. In truth, the two acts probably have more in common than the Getos would have liked to admit. But only Axl took home the trophies.
39. “1, 2, Tha 3” – The Foundation (2005)
This solid, funky ol’ track from The Foundation was a happy reassurance in ’05 that the Geto Boys were still the hardest. Collectively, it’s their Bush-era best.
38. “Eye 4 an Eye” – Da Good, Da Bad & Da Ugly (1998)
A lot of the …Da Ugly material feels like it’s missing something…like maybe the point. But this tune managed to be elevated by the intensity of its rage. A decade after they first came together, Scarface and Willie D were still mad as all hell, and no one was better at capturing take-no-shit rage on wax.
37. “Talkin’ Loud, Ain’t Saying Nothin’" – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
Excellent bass and horn samples, explicit, threatening lyrics… this is Southern gangsta rap at its finest. If you can’t rhyme this hard, the Geto Boys ain’t listening.
36. “First Light of the Day” – The Resurrection (1996)
Awesome, slaughtering fun. A great, gonzo Bushwick Bill verse is the highlight, here, with Chuck flowing smoothly over a tight-ass hi-hat. It’s hard to outshine Scarface’s ultra-macho first verse, but he manages it all the same. Twenty years later, it still sounds fresh.
35. “No Sell Out” – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
This is probably the quintessential solo track by Willie D as a member of the Geto Boys. The basic theme here is that Willie D is from the ghetto — then, now, forever. And if the Man doesn’t like it, he can’t suck a dick or 12, because Willie D ain’t going soft for nobody. “No Sell Out” may set something of an impossible standard of G-ness, but at least it’s something to aspire to.
34. “Geto Boys and Girls” – The Resurrection (1996)
Menacing. This song captures the Geto Boys at their ’90s peak — picking up the pace for nothing and no one. Scarface, in particular, breaks off one of those unmistakable flows that led people to call him the greatest of all time.
33. “Seek and Destroy” – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
Here’s an early Scarface showcase in which the former DJ Akshen motormouths through a tight B-boy track. In addition to being a fly example of late-’80s hip-hop, it was also the first notice a lot of people got that this Scarface character was going to be a good one.
32. “Ain’t With Being Broke” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
If you ever wondered why the Geto Boys never seemed troubled by the idea of selling dope, well, they lay out the case here in dramatic fashion. All three turn in mean, relatable rhymes on another horns-and-guitar headbanger.
31. “Gota Let Your Nuts Hang” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
Swaggering gangsta rap delivered by Scarface with supreme confidence. “Gota Let Your Nuts Hang” is the vulgar, unmistakable sound of a man and a group that’s on a major-league hot streak, and the best is yet to come.
30. “Street Life” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
This is the top Scarface solo track from Till Death, an album that was full of them. Full of familiar themes, it ended up on the South Central sound track, helping to spread the sound of H-Town gangsterism to hoods nationwide.
29. “Time Taker” – The Resurrection (1996)
Scarface flows unbreakably over the funkiest marimba in hip-hop history here. Willie D, too, is in his absolute prime as a rapper and lyricist, keeping pace with his partner. Ain’t to be skipped.
28. “Gangsta of Love” ("Sweet Home Alabama" version) – The Geto Boys (1990)
Many who came a little late to the Geto Boys’ rap beatdown only ever knew this version of “Gangsta of Love,” which swaps in a Lynyrd Skynyrd sample for the original’s Steve Miller Band. The explicitly sexist lyricism is still memorable enough to earn a high spot on this list, but the rebel flag-waving Skynyrd is a bit of an uncomfortable fit.
27. “I’m Not a Gentleman” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
A thugged-out response to Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First,” “I’m Not a Gentleman” is Willie D at his dick-swingin’, swaggering best. You see, to Willie, “gentleman” is just another name for “sucker.” It’s some awfully harsh stuff, as usual, but plenty of fun to rap along to.
26. "Let a Ho Be a Ho" — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
The Geto Boys were never much given to lamenting human nature. In general, they prefer to profit from it. Willie D certainly sounds in no rush to reform any scandalous women out there on this sexist classic from his earliest days with the Boys. This was the kind of writing he was doing for the group that helped convince J. Prince that the group needed to head in a new and outrageous direction.
25. "Another Nigger in the Morgue" – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
The body count throughout the Geto Boys’ musical catalogue is astronomical, but not many songs added as many toe tags to the tally as this tune. It’s hard to top Scarface bragging about being so comfortable about death that he can fall asleep lying next to a dead man. A top-notch gangsta fantasy.
24. "Fuck ’Em" — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
Some crucial Tony Montana samples introduce this break-heavy organ tune, with all three Geto Boys triple-teaming the haters with more F-bombs than maybe any rap tune that came before. If your mom heard this one blaring out of the boom box, you were fucked.
23. "Read These Nikes" — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
On wax, Willie D is rap’s ultimate ass-kicker, and he was never more obsessed with physical violence than on this standout solo from his debut with the Getos. It was easy to take his threats seriously when he recounted these beatings (and shootings, don’t forget those!) with such obvious glee.
22. “Fuck a War” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
Bushwick Bill was against the Iraq war at least a decade before it was cool. This anti-patriotic screed was the ultimate in subversiveness back in ’91, when barely a word was spoken against the United States’ initial Middle Eastern adventure. But Bushwick let it be known he had no intention of getting his leg shot off while “Bush’s old ass on TV playin’ golf.” The song was a spiteful protest that only Bushwick Bill could carry.
21. “Six Feet Deep” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
A slowed-down Commodores sample sets the pace for this thug funeral anthem, which sounds like the sad audio equivalent of pouring out a 40-ouncer. Melodically, it’s a sister song to “Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta,” which was released about six months prior.
20. “Making Trouble” — Making Trouble (1988)
This rip is maybe the most Rick Rubin track the Ghetto Boys ever made, made years before the superproducer got involved with the group. Run-DMC are probably still waiting on their royalties. But as far as Johnny C and Sire Juke Box’s "King of Rock" era goes, it gets no better than the album’s title track.
19. “Gangsta of Love” ("The Joker" version) — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
“Gangsta of Love” just ain’t “Gangsta of Love” without that “Joker” sample. It remains a live staple of the group’s set today because it’s still so memorable.
18. "Scarface" — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
This song was basically Scarface’s introduction to the world as a solo artist. It wouldn’t be long before his fame and acclaim overshadowed the other Geto Boys a bit, and it all started with the flow on his namesake cut.
17. "City Under Siege" – The Geto Boys (1990)
The “mugshots” album was mostly just Rick Rubin’s remix of Grip It!, but it did include a fine addition in “City Under Siege.” Drenched in dope-game paranoia, this song was tailor-made to unsettle George H. W. Bush’s America, depicting a world in which crack dealers are more trustworthy than the cops.
16. “Homie Don’t Play That” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
The most danceable affirmation yet that Willie D needs a good reason not to kick your ass. One imagines that Damon Wayans has had to listen to this classic more than he’s cared to over the years.
15. "Do It Like a G.O." — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
I can’t be sure, but I think this may have been the first song that Willie D brought to the Geto Boys, back before he’d officially joined. It’s pretty easy to hear the potential that J. Prince saw in Willie here, and the self-promoting pleasure the mogul takes in his “I ain’ts ta be fucked with!” outro is obvious.
14. “Crooked Officer” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
This is one from Till Death that really stuck. “Crooked Officer” could have probably used Willie D to hammer it home, but it’s memorable enough to find a place here in the Top 15.
13. “Geto Fantasy” – The Resurrection (1996)
On the fist-shaking victory lap that is The Resurrection, the Geto Boys were feeling good enough about their reunion to allow themselves a little “Geto Fantasy.” Featuring one of Bushwick Bill’s smoothest flows ever, it’s somehow upbeat despite its ever-dark subject matter.
12. “G Code” – The Foundation (2005)
This Scarface track made the biggest dent on The Foundation. Strumming some hard strings over a funky little guitar line, the instrumental track provides a terrific platform for one of the greats to go to work. It earns bonus points for inspiring those dope “We Don’t Talk to Police” billboards advertising the Getos’ appearance at FPSF a few years back, too.
11. “The World Is a Ghetto” – The Resurrection (1996)
This song accomplishes the mean feat of opening your eyes to the desperate ghetto experience around the globe without making you upset about it at all. To be perfectly honest, watching your homeboys die has never sounded like a breezier, more easygoing way to pass the time as it does here, before or since.
10. “Balls and My Word” – Making Trouble (1988)
This DJ solo track is DJ Reddy Red’s finest hour as the Ghetto Boys’ turntablist. “Balls and My Word” is mostly just gunshots and Al Pacino samples — something that’s been done countless times since. But never did they sound this fresh or musical.
9. “Chuckie” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
It was a premise too fun to resist. A demented, diminutive Bushwick Bill starring in his own auditory slasher film? “Chuckie” was hip-hop destiny, plain and simple. The biggest mystery is why Hollywood never took a crack at putting it on film. Too scared, probably. Pussies.
8. “It Ain’t Shit” – Till Death Do Us Part (1993)
Till Death Do Us Part is nobody’s favorite Geto Boys album, but no one can argue that the mighty Scarface did not pull his weight on the record. In fact, “It Ain’t Shit” turned out to be the quintessential Scarface solo verse as a Geto Boy, really solidifying his place in the conversation for greatest of all time. Till Death was a record ’Face never wanted to put out, but he still managed to turn it into his album.
7. "Size Ain’t Shit" — Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
This song was an amazing spotlight for one of hip-hop’s most fraught characters, telling you everything you need to know about Bushwick Bill in four verses. Penned for him by Willie D, this was the song that made Bill a real part of the group and solidified the classic lineup. “Size Ain’t Shit” was Bushwick’s song, but in a way, it introduced all three of them.
6. "Assassins" – The Geto Boys (1990)
This song was just a rehash of Prince Johnny C’s track from Making Trouble, sure. But it’s still great. Listening to those verses come from the lips of Willie D, Bushwick Bill and Scarface feels like the way “Assassins” was meant to be heard. No disrespect to Juke Box and them, but the original Ghetto Boys were never this hard, even on their most psychopathic tune.
5. “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta” – Uncut Dope: Geto Boys’ Best (1992)
This is white people’s favorite Geto Boys song. Yes, they know it from the iconic montage in Office Space, which — let’s be real — did manage to elevate the song in status. It’s the closest thing the Getos have to an easygoing song, and it still works in explicit disses to Republicans and “pussy-eating pranksters” alike. As far as I can tell, it’s the only time Rap-A-Lot mogul J. Prince ever rapped on a Geto Boys track, too. The song works because it does feel good. Really good.
4. “Assassins” – Making Trouble (1988)
This was the song that really started the Ghetto Boys down the path to greatness. On that debut album, amidst all the Run-DMC worship, this track stands out like a urinal cake at a pastry shop. It was just about the most gonzo rap song ever written at the time, since believe it or not, not a lot of guys were rapping about slicing prostitutes’ guts up like spaghetti in ’88. Ultimately, Johnny C realized he didn’t have the stomach for it, either, but not before showing J. Prince how the Geto Boys could make a controversial name for themselves.
3. "Mind of a Lunatic" – Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
Oh, you thought “Assassins” was pretty tough? Well, a year later, over the sound of a funky drummer, ‘Face, Bushwick and Willie D spat out a slab of righteous horrorcore that still sounds no less insane today than the day it was recorded. Its tales of smoking PCP, raping innocents, murdering cops and straight-up drop-kicking bitches were impossible to ignore, and they helped to turn the Geto Boys stars.
2. “Still” – The Resurrection (1996)
The soundtrack to cinema’s most celebrated crime against technology, “Still” would sound just as good even if Office Space never existed. The blaring, frightening opener to The Resurrection served as a potent warning that the Geto Boys were back, that they were on top of their game and that they still had a strong taste for lyrical death and dismemberment. It remains a live favorite, making Geto Boys shows the rare experience where you can watch hundreds of smiling people chant “Die motherfucker, die motherfucker!”
1. “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” – We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)
Probably no great surprise here at No. 1. “Mind Playin’ Tricks on Me” was the Geto Boys’ biggest hit, threatening to turn them into household names. But even if it hadn’t been a smash, it would still be their best song. Over the course of three amazing verses, the song explores the inner terror of living with paranoia, hallucinations and insomnia. It’s dark as hell, but still sympathetic. Most important, it helped establish once and for all that hip-hop artists from Houston, Texas, could write first-class rap songs that no one had ever dreamed of before. We’ve been on the map ever since.
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