Tag Archives: rap-a-lot

Willie D Video Reminds Us How Brutally Funny His Lyrics Were (MUST WATCH!!)

Scarface may be considered the overall king of the south, but Willie D is the undisputed cuss down king. And in case you forgot just how “Laugh out loud” funny he can be, here is a video compilation of some of his best moments. From the hardcore take down of fellow Rap-A-Lot label mate Choice, to his verbal assault on police brutality victim Rodney King, Uncle Willie has never been one to mince his words.

Uber-feminists and politically correct individuals who are easily offended might want to turn back now, Willie ain’t no joke. You’ve been warned!

 

Scarface Book Launch: Diary Of A Madman

Diary of a Madman: The Geto Boys, Life, Death, and the Roots of Southern Rap, is  the long awaited biography of Geto Boys legend Brad “Scarface” Jordan. As a lifelong fan I have been eagerly waiting on these memoirs for years. With all the controversy that surrounded the Geto Boys during the late 80’s and early 90’s this is sure to be an eye opener and an essential read for any hip hop historian.

The book will touch on Brads troubled past, dropping out of school in the ninth grade and selling crack. His long battle with depression. The difficulties he faced as a Southern artist in a New York dominated hip hop industry. The book will also delve deeper in to life on the south side of Houston. All in all this book promises to be a fascinating exposé in to the life of one of hip hops most enduring rap artists.

If your in the US you can order the book from 21st April but if your in the UK and Europe you will have to wait an extra month so pre-order your copy.

Stay tuned for our full book review.

brad jordan scarface book

O.G. STYLE – I Know How To Play Em

“I Know How To Play Em” was the debut release from the Houston group formally known as “OG STYLE”, which consisted of Eric “The Original E” Woods and DJ Boss. It may surprise some to know that this album has got a ton of east coast flavour regardless of it’s southern roots. It’s also one of the few early Rap-A-Lot albums that doesn’t heavily rely on the in house production team. Not long after the album dropped the duo split with Eric “The Original E” Woods keeping the name OG Style for himself, while DJ Boss went on to form a new crew called 4Deep with KooRod and Klas One. Tragically both members of the group have since passed away but their impact and legacy on the Houston hip hop scene lives on. R.I.P

O.G. STYLE CATCH EM SLIPPIN CASSETTE

 

Why DJ Ready Red Was Edited Out The “Mr Scarface Is Back” Album Cover

Mr. Scarface Is Back , the debut solo album that set Scarface on the way to becoming the most prolific artist of all the previous 9 members of the Geto Boys. Released in October 1991, the album managed to reach 13 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart gaining it gold status. The iconic album cover image is noted for being as notorious as the songs contained within. The action shot featuring Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick in a mock ‘drug deal gone wrong’ was so well executed that it gives the impression it was taken straight from the still of a movie reel. The image also contains a not so well known secret. The dark skinned, bearded fella in the center with his hands in a mound of cocaine is actually former Geto Boys member  DJ Ready Red.

The current and official album cover

Above- The current Mr Scarface Is Back album cover

For the past 24 years this obscure edited version of Ready Red has graced the Mr Scarface album sleeve and due to the circumstances of Reds exit from the Geto Boys and his strained relationship with Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince it’s likely to stay that way.

Original Mr Scarface Is Back album cover before Dj Ready Red was edited out

Above – The original Mr Scarface Is Back album cover before Dj Ready Red was edited. In this picture you can also see John Bido to the right holding the pump with Steve Salinas just behind him.

The Hip Hop Foundation recently caught up with Ready Red and asked him about his memories of the album. He had this to say

“That blackout took place after I left the Geto Boys. I don’t know if they [Rap-A-Lot] ever released any records before the blackout was done but if they did it would be very rare. Not sure who was responsible for editing me out but most likely J since I said fuck him! Same thing with We Can’t Be stopped, no production credit! Remember I was made the example of crossing J.”     DJ READY RED


scarface original cover

Scarface: 20 Years Of The Diary

It was October 1994 and I had just come home from a heavy night out. I crashed on to the sofa and switched on the box. MTV Raps was on…cool. I quickly threw in a VHS tape and hit the record button. (I hated missing an episode). Then it dropped… Scarface’s new joint “I Seen A Man Die”. 

Looking back now, the alcohol must have been messing with my head, because I initially had mixed feelings. “Till Death Do Us Part” was still fresh in my tape deck and his previous 2 solo’s were also getting regular rotation.  But this was a different Face to what I had become accustomed to. His flow was different and I was still deciding if I liked it or not. I was wondering if this new style was just a one off or would it become his new default style of rhyming. But non of that would matter because after a second listen I was totally hooked and the only thing on my mind was getting down to HMV to pick up the album and see what other goodies where contained on it.

scarface-diary-20

About a week later I had left the store with the tape (yup, cassettes were the format of choice for me back then as I moved around a lot) the clear wrapper was off in seconds and the tape was swiftly in the Sony WM-DX100…..

“Rat tat tat tat till your ass hit the motherfuckin floor / here comes the white sheet”….. BooOOM!!!

It was official. Face was still going hard as ever and showing no signs of letting up. This album contains some of the coldest (hard mother fucker) lyrics ever put down. Rappers can chat all kinds of hard shit on a track but few can deliver lyrics in such a way that your totally convinced they mean every word of what they say. Well in my opinion Scarface is one such rapper who has that 2Pac like authenticity when it comes to delivering high drama lyrics.

Tracks 3 and 4 “No Tears” and “Jesse James” also play out like a symphony of violence in true Brad Jordan fashion, taking shots at studio gangster types playing the big shot only to be given a very vivid lyrical reality check by the Bradster.

At this point on Brad goes a bit deeper, even taking on the persona of death himself as portrayed in the video “I Seen A Man Die.

“You start your journey into outer space / You see yourself in the light, but you’re still feeling outta place / So you standing in the tunnel of eternal life, and you see the ones you never learn to love in life / Make the choice, let it go but you can back it up / If you ain’t at peace with God, you need to patch it up.”

The first time I really caught that verse, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Scarface is a truly special artist when it comes to the words that penetrate your soul, and a prime example of “your favorite rappers, rapper”. I have touched on this subject before, of how some of the golden era rappers had the ability to really put their all in to a song and literally bleed emotion on to the track. If there was a benchmark for measuring that kind of thing then “I Seen A Man Die” would be it.

The next truly stand out track brings you back down to earth with a reality check as Scarface brings in Ice Cube (quite a rarity in those days) for an explosive and defiant collab aimed at the racist establishment trying to kill off gangster rap. Face drops the first bomb shell’s, getting the listener to think and consider things from a different perspective….

“So why you trying kick some dust up / America’s been always known for blaming us n****s  for they fuck-ups / And we were always considered evil / Now they trying to bust our only code of communicating with our people”

Then goes on to say….

“Lets peep the game from a different angle / Matt Dillon pulled his pistol every time him and someone tangled / So why you criticize me / For the shit that you see on your tv, that rates worse than PG / Just bring your ass to where they got me / So you can feel the hand of the dead body “

Devin The Dude provides the hook before Cube, who at that time was at the peak of his career and still politically charged and motivated, enters in for verse 3…..

“You best to free your mind / Before I free my nine / And stop fucking with Devoid of Pop Or feel my hot rocks / Bang,bang, boom boom, ping ping  / I’m the black / White boys got a magazine and don’t kow how to act / I’ll attack and make you vomit / Down with Khalid Abdul Muhammad / Do he got a brother, I’m it now / I’m the illest / Wanna kill this house nigga Don Cornelius / Can you feel this?”

Then goes on to say….

“But I bust two times to the guts / Do the Reverend Calvin Butts / Got a pair of nuts? / I started this gangsta shit in ’86 / Now you dissing me / For publicity / Isn’t he a ho to the third degree / Who me, I’m a g who like to scrap-a-lot / Down with Rap-A-Lot / And I can’t stop, won’t stop / So fuck Bill and Hillary / Ice Cube their ain’t no killing me”

Truly one of the most memorable collaborations of all time and both artists delivered blazing verses that didn’t just sound dope, they were actually saying something to the listener. 

20 years on and this album still comes out from time to time. It still sounds as dramatic as it did back then. Face’s usual production staff NO Joe and Mike Dean always bring the goods with heavy bass and eerie sounding strings that compliment Brads southern drool perfectly.

And on that note I will leave you with another line off the album

“And I can say this once again / you can cry but you’ll still die / there’ll be no tears in the end”

RATING: (5/5)

 

DMG – Rigormortiz – (1993) – Rare-OOP

Rigormortiz, the debut album from DetriMental Ganxsta– DMG was released at a time when solid albums seemed to be dropping routinely every other week. Rigormortiz was one of those tapes that I remember seeing sat proudly in a lot of peoples collections but was rarely talked about. It just kinda seemed to get lost in the noise of other big industry releases that same year, including label mates Geto Boys “Till Death Do Us Part”. In terms of sales it managed to reach a respectable #40 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. This was in spite of the album having the usual poor promotion that Rap-A-Lot has become known for. 1993 was also a time when the hysteria of west coast gangster rap was in full swing, with Snoop, Spice 1, Ice Cube to name a few all dropping phenomenal albums. Over on the east coast Wu Tang fever was taking effect and would soon change the rap game completely.  Add to all this the fact DMG sounds similar to his mentor Scarface and it’s a miracle Rigormortiz got the chance to shine at all. 21 years on and the album has become somewhat of an enigma mostly due to the scarcity of this now long “out of print” Rap-A-Lot classic. DMG

Like so many Rap-A-Lot artists from the early 90’s, there isn’t a lot of background info on DMG.  I once heard that he was the younger brother of Scarface, but I think this rumor was born out of the fact that DMG as already mentioned above, sounds similar to his mentor Brad Jordan aka Mr Scarface. I still occasionally come across Scarface fans who have not heard the Rigormortiz album and are completely unaware that the track “You Don’t Hear Me Doe”, first used on Face’s “The World Is Yours” album was actually performed by DMG. Generally speaking, two rappers sounding so similar would be enough to kill the deal for me, but to be honest after a couple of listens the differences in voice and style become more and more obvious to the point that you wonder how you were ever fooled in the first place. “Rigormortiz” is a raw and potent product cooked up by the Rap-A-Lot camp at a time when it was at it’s glorious best and DMG fits right in with the hardcore gangster element that has made the label what it is…….was.

Listening to “Rigormortiz” you would think every element came straight out of Houston Texas, as many people erroneously assume  DMG is a Houston native when he actually hails from St. Paul, Minnesota. However, the production is mostly handled by Texas mainstay, N.O. Joe, the man behind many of the classic U.G.K tracks. what you get is pure bass loaded gangsta funk. Lyrically, Rigormortiz is full of guns, murder, and all the usual gangster type shit that you would expect from a Rap-A-Lot artist of the era. “Prelude To A Murdah,” Feat; Cozy-K, uses the same sample used on “Gangsta’s Paradise,” (Stevie Wonder’s-Pastime Paradise) 2 years before Coolio had the smash hit.  “One in tha Chamba” has a reggae inspired beat with a hook that is reminiscent of Spice 1 when he sometimes rhymes in a Jamaican patois style in parts of his tracks. Former Geto Boys member Big Mike lends a verse on “Rest In Peace,” a deep and powerful tribute to some of the fallen homies from the block. Then Mike reappears for the biggest collab on the album “Buck Em Down,” along with Scarface, 5th Ward Boyz, 2 Low and and fellow Convicts partner Mr. 3-2. Perhaps my favourite track on the album apart from the excellent and hard hitting opener “You Don’t Hear Me Doe”, is the mellow flow and silky smooth production found on “I ain’t Bullshitting”. Scarface fans who haven’t heard the album will be familiar with the beat as it’s the same one used on the intro to scarface’s “The World Is Yours – Face II Face” album.

Since the album dropped all those years ago output for DMG has been very scarce. Apart from his Facemob appearances, the only other albums to his name are a 2003 Rap-A-Lot release called Black Roulette and a 2007 album  Chek.  “Rigormortiz” is long out of print and sells for ridiculous prices on Ebay and discogs. For the hardcore Geto Boys and Rap-A-Lot fans I highly recommend the album as it’s actually one of my favourites out of the many I own. If you can get it for a reasonable price then dive on it quick. It’s a very well-done album that still holds its weight even after all these years. The production is excellent and among the finest of this era of Rap-A-Lot albums, with tons of slow rolling bass, woozy synths, and funky instrumentals.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”100%” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]INTERESTING FACT: Next time you watch the movie Jasons Lyric, keep an eye out for the DMG – Rigormortiz poster featured on the bedroom wall in one of the scenes. [/dropshadowbox]

Willie D – Controversy – (1989 Rare – OOP)

In 1988, Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince decided to invest his full budget and attention towards the Ghetto Boys, as he saw them as the most promising music-act on his label.

After the criticism and commercial failure of the original group’s debut album “Making Trouble”,  J. Prince felt that the Ghetto Boys, and ultimately “the Rap-A-Lot brand” needed to go in a different direction and so a line-up change was decided. Jukeboxx left the group while DJ Ready Red and Bushwick stayed on with Prince Johnny C stepping back into a production based role. Prince felt that the original groups rapping styles where too similar to artists from New York and this was something he wanted to move away from in favour of a more hard edged sound.

Willie D (known then as Willie Dee), was already signed to Rap-A-Lot as a solo artist, but was added to the group at the request of J Prince. Willie would later reveal that he was initially reluctant to join the fold as he wanted to make a solo album. Willie did eventually get his wish, releasing his debut album Controversy in December of 1989.

Controversy contains an original version of “Do It Like it G.O,” featuring Prince Johnny C and Sire Jukeboxx. It was later re-recorded and featured on the Geto Boys’ 1989 album, Grip It! On That Other Level, with Scarface and Bushwick Bill replacing the lines of Johnny C and Jukeboxx.

Controversy is somewhat of a Rap-A-Lot collectors item. The very first pressings are extremely rare and can be identified by the slight title text differences on the albums cover. The original reads: “Featuring The Ghetto Boys” while the reissue has the more well known “Geto Boys” spelling. However the reissues are still pretty rare and fetch a decent price.

EXECUTIVE  PRODUCER: Lil James Prince
PRODUCERS: Ready Red / Prince Johny C
ENGINEER: Doug King
MIXED BY: Cliff Blodget

 

Geto Boys – Grip It! On That Other Level – (Ghetto Boys – Rare OOP)

Grip It! On That Other Level is the second studio album by the Houston hip hop group, Geto Boys (then known as Ghetto Boys), released on March 12, 1989 on Rap-A-Lot Records. Following the disappointing results of the group’s first album, Rap-A-Lot CEO James Prince replaced two of the group members with Scarface (then known as Akshen) and Willie D, who joined original members Bushwick Bill and DJ Ready Red. Recording for the album began in 1988, and finished in early 1989. The majority of the album’s tracks were produced by DJ Ready Red, and much of the album’s lyrical content deals with violent and misogynistic topics, which would later be credited for pioneering the horrorcore hip hop sub-genre.

hip hop-elitist

Upon its 1989 release, Grip It! On That Other Level reached number 166 on the Billboard 200 chart, and number 19 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. The song “Do it Like it G.O.” was the album’s only single used for promotion. Grip It! was well received in the hip hop community, and was considered to be the group’s breakout album, as it gave them national exposure and eventually sold 500,000 copies. A year after its release, super-producer Rick Rubin remixed 10 of its tracks for the 1990 remix album The Geto Boys. In 1998, The Source magazine included Grip It! On That Other Level on their 100 Best Albums list, and in 2002, they gave it the perfect five mic’ rating.

The very first pressings of the album featured the original and grammatically correct spelling of the groups name “Ghetto Boys” which would later be changed to the more familiar “Geto Boys” spelling.

ghetto-boys-grip-it
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”100%” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]ALBUM FACT: The bottom of the album cover contains the message – “Dedicated to the memory of NC Trahan”. NC was a friend of the groups who was shot and killed outside a gas station during the video shoot for Raheems “Dance Floor”.[/dropshadowbox]

 

James Prince – Legendary Rap-A-Lot CEO or Just Another Crooked Officer?

Ever since hearing my first Geto Boys album “Grip It On That Other Level,” I’ve been a devout Rap-A-Lot fan with a deep respect for founder James “J Prince” Smith. For at least a decade, between 89 and 99 I supported Rap-A-Lot unconditionally, and stacked up virtually every album the label put out within those years.

There have always been rumours circulating that things where not quite as harmonious as they seemed within “the house of Rap-A-Lot”, but in the ignorance of my youth I never really gave it much notice. I always felt that for the most part Lil’ J was just doing what he had to do for the greater good of the label, so that one day, once he had accomplished his vision in making Rap-A-Lot a success, everybody could eat. But as time passed and the money poured in it became harder to ignore the stories of dirty dealings that artists kept coming forward with.

J Prince is a very accomplished business man and it’s very debatable if Rap-A-Lot would have had the same legacy without an element of ‘doing dirt’ in the early stages. But when you keep hearing accounts from the main players who undoubtedly made the label what it is today, you have to take off the rose tinted spectacles and take note of what is being said.  Almost every rapper that’s ever been on the labels roster has at some point had a run-in with the RAL king-pin. According to some sources, Prince ran the label like a modern day plantation, working his artists with the ruthless control of a slave master. It is common knowledge that headline acts like Geto Boys where only modestly compensated for their work and in some cases not compensated at all. Historically it was one of the original Geto Boys DJ Ready Red who was the first to expose the situation to the world when he famously left the group in 1991 after becoming increasingly frustrated with his lack of earnings.

“I stood my ground on that one and I have no regrets all these years later because I see that nothing has been accomplished. [J. Prince] still has all the money. Everybody has been through something dealing with this record company and nobody has anything. I’m glad I got out.” “A lot of other people who left Rap-A-Lot were victims to home invasions; they got pistol whipped, and got their equipment took back, but I was going to the gun range. I was learning to shoot, learning how to take care of myself, and defend myself, so if you was gonna run up on me you was gonna get double tapped.” 

DJ READY RED

Ready Red is just one of many who have felt the sting of J Prince’s heavy handed business approach. There have been countless reports of artists being intimidated in to signing lengthy contracts and those who put up a resistance are threatened with violence. In 2013 Z-Ro changed his stage name, supposedly to break his Rap-A-Lot contract ties.

z-ro leaves rap-a-lot

“It’s alotta people scared, and the fear they have is so strong that they will let another MAN get paid for their hard work.” 

Z-Ro

In around 2001 Big Mike was shot at in his home, allegedly by staff on the RAL payroll. He was sentenced to 3 and half years for attempting to burn down a local studio connected to Rap-A-Lot, in retaliation.

Let’s just say it got kinda ugly. It got ugly to the point where some things went down and I had to do some time”. 

BIG MIKE

Scarface dropped this very revealing statement in a 2010 HipHopDX interview

scarface geto boys

“Like I tell everybody, you don’t retire from this shit – it’s kinda like the game – you just quit. And any two ways you in a situation where it doesn’t benefit you, then you need to…make it to where you can benefit yourself…because for my entire career I haven’t benefited from it – not financially anyway”

SCARFACE

In 1996 rapper 2 Low filed a $28 million lawsuit for non payment from performances and an album he recorded when he was just 13 years old.  More recently Pimp-C’s widow had been issued with a lawsuit over the release of some of her late husbands masters. She responded to J-Prince with a ‘cease and desist’ letter as she was not comfortable with the way her husbands material was being marketed.

“I’m being sued when you Rap-A-Lot are putting out a project and I haven’t even received any money or anything from? I will never amend anything, This is about him [Pimp C.] and all I can do is make him proud and make sure no one tarnishes his legacy, and what he built his whole life. I just think its sad.”

CHINARA BUTLER (Pimp C’s widow)

Sources:

Houston business journal

hiphopdx.com

keepittrilll.com