Former Geto Boys Member DJ Ready Red Has Passed Away
DJ Ready Red, a former member of the Geto Boys, has died. Red’s former band-mate Willie D reports that the accomplished producer and DJ suffered a fatal heart attack today (August 24). The man born Collins Leysath was with the group in its mid-1980s debut and stayed with the Rap-A-Lot Records flagship act until the biggest strides during the early 1990s.
“[DJ Ready Red] gave us our sound. He was responsible for most of the production on the early stuff and all of the production on my first album, Controversy,” Willie said in an Instagram video. “To say he was a pioneer would be an understatement. Red was before his time. There’s a lot of producers today that are eating off of Red and don’t even know why their bellies are full.”
A native of Trenton, New Jersey, Ready Red relocated to Houston, Texas in the mid-1980s to help his sister. Temporary plans turned long-term when Red took to the DJ community. In a 2008 interview with AllHipHop‘s Dynasty Williams, Red recalled meeting J. Prince, the founder of the fledgling label, Rap-A-Lot Records.
Soon after, the mixing and production hopeful was added to the original Geto Boys lineup. There, he especially bonded with dancer, Bushwick Bill. “I met [Bushwick] Bill, he was straight off the plane from Bushwick Brooklyn, and we bonded because he was an East Coast cat. He knew how to dance to the breaks that I was cutting. After three or four hours after meeting him, he took me to his sister’s house. The next thing I know, they started arguing in the back room. He came out and said ‘Yo Red, let’s go get your stuff, you’re gonna live with us.”
As the group transitioned its lineup, Red and Bill stayed, as Willie D and Scarface (tka DJ Akshen) were added. Part of the quartet, DJ Ready Red appeared on 1988’s Making Trouble, 1989’s Grip It! On That Other Level, and 1990’s Geto Boys. He is on all three album covers. He extensively produced all of these albums, using a very East Coast-rooted style of sampling. Songs like “Do It Like A G.O.,” “Size Ain’t Sh*t,” and “No Sell Out” are some of his credits. He worked with other artists at the label, including The Convicts.
By the early 1990s, Ready Red was at odds with his label, reportedly over financial disputes. He eventually left, stating in the 2008 interview that he felt marginalized from his band-mates and Prince. The label retaliated by altering his image on the cover of 1991’s Mr. Scarface Is Back album. Red detailed the move in a 2015 conversation with The Hip Hop Foundation‘s Karl Smith.
Although distanced from Rap-A-Lot, Red remained focused on music. He admits that he battled a 16-year crack cocaine addiction, during a period where he returned to central New Jersey.
Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family and friends of DJ Ready Red, as well as the Geto Boys.