Do Remember: Geto Boys’ Bring It On, The Ultimate Rap-A-Lot Posse Cut (Audio)
Plenty of Hip-Hop groups have seen lineup changes. Ice Cube famously (and rather loudly) exited N.W.A in 1990 to pursue solo interests away from Ruthless Records. After a fast-track to stardom, Young Jeezy departed from Boyz N The Hood to become a Corporate Thug at Def Jam. Cee-Lo, and later Big Gipp said it wasn’t all good in the Goodie Mob, leaving for stints in the mid-’00s.
No group in recent memory has had a more colorful personnel shift than The Geto Boys. For the three most recent, most-known members (Scarface, Willie D, Bushwick Bill), there are twice as many former members (DJ Ready Red, Raheem, Sir Rap-A-Lot, Prince Johnny C, Big Mike, The Slim Jukebox). On the group’s 1988 debut, Making Trouble—which is still sold in many stores today, only Bushwick Bill remains from the artists on the album cover.
From 1989 to 1992, the Geto Boys definitively established themselves (and their city of Houston, Texas). Although producer/DJ, Ready Red ultimately (and rather sadly) would be turned away from the quartet following 1990’s Rick Rubin-helmed self-titled LP, the group reached both Top 25 (as an album, and a single), and platinum status on 1991’s We Can’t Be Stopped.
Sadly, the party did not last. Willie D, whose dealings with Rap-A-Lot began as a solo artist, reportedly asserted his desires to give focus to his solo career. With Scarface also over one album deep in his own solo interests, the group was forced to go on. New Orleans, Louisiana’s Big Mike replaced Willie for March, 1993’s Till Death Do Us Part. Mike, who Rap-A-Lot Heads knew from The Convicts, slid in nicely with Bill and ‘Face. Just a year prior, Mike was courted by Dr. Dre, Suge Knight and Death Row Records, and even recorded pre-Chronic material with Snoop Dogg. However, an offer to be a fixture in the South’s biggest group of the time brought the N’awlins MC back into the R.A.L fold for his biggest look to date.
Till Death Do Us Part would be the Geto Boys’ top-charting album to date (#11), nearly sneaking into the Top 10. With the single “6 Feet Deep,” Heads were given the dark, abrasive music they were used to, with little attention diverted on Willie Hands’ exit. Production duties were largely held by N.O. Joe, another Louisiana-to-Texas transplant. Joe would grab credits on hits by Ice Cube, AZ, and UGK, but his Gumbo Funk originated through J. Prince’s label.
Released less than six months after Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Till Death Do Us Part notably lacked a cohesive three-member layout on the album, but it did employ Death Row’s knack for showcasing label talent (something that Rap-A-Lot arguably had been originators of). Like “Stranded On Death Row” (which ironically included some non-rapping vocals from Bushwick Bill), “Bring It On” was intended to stake the claim of all the talent in the EMI/Priority Records-distributed label.
The song notably features:
2-Low, Rap-A-Lot’s answer to Shyheim The Rugged Child, Illegal, Lil Bow Wow, and Kris Kross. Then 13 years old, the foul-mouthed teen would never release an album (or be compensated) at Rap-A-Lot, prompting a 1996 lawsuit said to be in the eight-figures.
Seagram, the first of Rap-A-Lot’s artists from Oakland, California, prior to inking Yukmouth and Tha Luniz. Seagram, who had released his The Dark Roads debut just two months earlier, would be tragically murdered just over three years from this moment. Seagram, who was mentored by Geto Boys and Too Much Trouble, would blaze a trail for Luniz and 3 x Krazy, which includes Keak da Sneak.
Too Much Trouble, also known as TMT, followed the path of Geto Boys, not unlike N.W.A’s opening the door for Above The Law. Between 1992 and 1997, the quartet of Drunk D, Ghetto MC, Bar-None, and DJ Bad News Black would released three albums for Rap-A-Lot, before sadly drifting into obscurity. Ghetto MC died from kidney complications last year.
The 5th Ward Boyz, Another Geto Boyz’ off-shoot, H-Town’s 5th Ward Boyz’ were a Top 200 debuting group from jump, as of their May, 1993 premiere, Ghetto Dope. The group would remain in tact for more than a decade, maintaining a career after exiting Rap-A-Lot in the early 2000s, following five consecutive Top 200 LPs, including work with Flesh-N-Bone, 8Ball & MJG, and Tha Outlawz.
The Odd Squad, another enduring act, courtesy of Devin The Dude (who was also an early member of Facemob). The group would release a single album at Rap-A-Lot, 1994’s cult-championed Fadanuf Fa Erybody!, before evolving into the present-day Coughee Brothaz. The trio of Devin, Jugg Mug and DJ Rob Quest, who was blind, mixed humor, raunch, and spacy Funk to become a pivotal mark of diversity in the label, and give them a post-Scarface, pre-Bun B and Z-Ro star in Devin.
Ganksta Nip, N-I-P was one of the only “Bring It On” guests with a previous album, in 1992’s The South Park Psycho. Ganxsta (as he’s now known) helped establish “Horrorcore,” an extension of some of Bushwick Bill’s early work. The Houston artist, who included K-Rino on his debut, remains active today, having just released God Of Horrorcore Rap, on his own Psych Ward imprint.
DMG, another Facemob member, made his break before Summer ’93’s Rigormortiz debut. It would take nearly a decade for the under-played follow-up, ’03’s Black Roulette. In between, the Scarface protege born in Minnesota, lent his talents to guest-work through three iterations of the label.
Mr. 3-2, Big Mike’s former Convicts partner reunited with his band-mate. A member of Blac Monks, Southside Playaz, and the heralded Screwed Up Click, 3-2 was another Rap-A-Lot artist who would be closely involved with a pre-R.A.L UGK. 3-2 would remain active after leaving J. Prince’s label, with a series of indie releases.
Big Mello, like 3-2, Mello would be an early pioneer with DJ Screw and the Screwed Up Click. A precursor to would-be label stars Trae Tha Truth and Z-Ro, the late Mello released three albums on Rap-A-Lot, beginning with late 1992’s Bone Hard Zaggin. Sadly, in 2002, Mello joined the ranks of Rap-A-Lot and S.U.C artists to die before their time, due to a car accident.
“Bring It On” was a crossroads of Rap-A-Lot’s ’80s, and its 2000s. The song showcased the lyricism in the South, and reminded Heads that while N.W.A was dissolved, and the Geto Boys were changing, that censorship-challenging lyrics and messages with dope beats were still around.
Three years later, The Geto Boys’ signature lineup was back. Willie D, Bushwick Bill, and Scarface made The Resurrection, and went to #6 on the Top 200. While DMG and Devin were there, Big Mike wasn’t—but he’d had a Pimp C-produced hit, “Havin’ Thangs” two years prior, and was still active/amicable with the label.
Do Remember “Bring It On” and the Geto Boys history leads many to forget.