The Geto Boys' performance at this year's Free Press Summer Festival was fun and all, but there's no question something was missing. Namely, a sawed-off, fun-loving sociopath by the name of Bushwick Bill, the diminutive, one-eyed rapper and dancer who's been an indelible element of the group's off-kilter energy since its earliest days. Scarface and Willie D are true legends of Southern hip-hop, to be sure. But it just ain't the Geto Boys without one Dr. Wolfgang Von Bushwickin the Barbarian Mother Funky Stay High Dollar Billstir.
At the fest, rumors ran rampant as to Bushwick's absence. Many speculated that he'd been arrested for one reason or another, a belief exacerbated by Scarface's playful jab from the stage that the dwarf had been busted backstage for weed possession. Others near me expressed shock that Bill was still alive at all. Though the rapper's checkered reputation might have made even the wildest of excuses believable, it turned out that he'd simply showed up late. Bummer.
Like the true gentlemen they are, Bushwick and the Geto Boys are making up for that disappointment by playing a makeup show tonight at House of Blues, with admission free on a space-available basis. (Note: As of this morning, guaranteed-admission tickets were going for $35 on StubHub.) Since their performance last month revealed that many of the group's younger (whiter) fans aren't as well-versed in their non-Office Space material as they probably should be, Rocks Off is taking the generous step of reintroducing our faithful readers to a few of Bushwick's most gonzo verses from the trio's storied history together.
Now when the Geto Boys take the stage tonight, you won't have to wait around for "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangster" like a clueless chode. Instead, with any luck, you can rap along to a few of the most gloriously offensive verses in hip-hop history... assuming Bill shows up.
5. "Size Ain't Shit" A highlight of 1989's Grip It! On That Other Level, "Size Ain't Shit" serves as something of a mission statement for Bushwick Bill, letting the world know up front that looks can be deceiving. The small-statured dude described in these verses looks up to no one.
On the contrary, this dwarf is one mean motherfucker who takes extreme pleasure in chopping tough guys down to size... literally, if need be. The song perfectly encapsulates the outrageously aggressive early sound upon which the Geto Boys made their name, strong enough to catch the ear of Def Jam mogul Rick Rubin, who quickly signed the group to his burgeoning label.
Choice Couplet: "Shank a motherfucker in a minute/ And I knew my Mexican homeboys was wit' it."
4. "Assassins" "Assassins," a brutal, Beastie Boys-influenced track from the Getos' debut, Making Trouble, has been tabbed by no less an authority than ICP's Violent J as the first horrorcore rap in recorded history.
As usual, Bushwick Bill turns in the most righteously raw verse, pushing hardcore gangsta rhymes well past the breaking point and into an altogether new territory for rap music. Hip-hop had dabbled in bloodshed before, sure. But when the Geto Boys' lyrical topics turned to hacking up prostitutes into bits with chainsaws, well... it was certainly something different.
Choice Couplet: "Cuttin' and cuttin,' he said 'Bushwick, man, she's dead'/ On the news, they found remains of just an arm and a head."
3. "Fuck a War" Bushwick Bill was a Bush-bashin,' anti-war artist long before it was cool. As a certified Geto Boy, he wasn't particularly polite about it, either. On this incendiary track from We Can't Be Stopped, the endearingly malicious dwarf laughs off the very idea of military service in the first Persian Gulf war before detailing his entirely apolitical aversion to the conflict at length. To hear Bill tell it, the enemy is right here at home -- not in some faraway desert.
Choice Couplet: "I ain't gettin' my leg shot off/ While Bush's old ass on TV, playin' golf."
2. "Chuckie" '80s slasher flicks were always a heavy influence on the Geto Boys' twisted flights of lyrical fantasy; never moreso than on Bushwick Bill's signature rap, "Chuckie." Reportedly penned by horrorcore godfather and Rap-A-Lot stablemate Ganksta N-I-P, the hilariously chilling track casts Bill into the role of the murderous doll from Child's Play, the nightmare-inducing horror classic that went on to spawn four sequels.
In retrospect, the comparison seems almost inevitable. Like Chucky, Bushwick proves conclusively on this track that homicidal things come in small packages. Sleep tight.
Choice Couplet: "Motherfuckers be worried 'cause I'm sick/ Dead heads and frog legs? Mmm... cake mix!"
1. "Mind of a Lunatic" Rap songs (hell, songs!) don't get a heck of a lot more unhinged than the Getos' "Mind of a Lunatic." The track is a completely over-the-top gore fantasy, calculated to provoke and downright gleeful in its transgression. While Scarface and Willie's verses are no nursery rhymes -- detailing PCP-fueled murder sprees -- Bushwick Bill's unforgettable verse takes the lunacy to a whole new level, sprinting straight past serial murder to rape and necrophilia.
It's shocking stuff that the march of time has done little to dull. More than any other, these verses solidified Bushwick's place as one of the most horrific rappers of all time.
Choice Couplet: "Had sex with the corpse before I left her/ And drew my name on the wall like Helter Skelter."
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