geto-boys

It's been more than a decade since the Geto Boys released their last group album, 2005's The Foundation, and years since they graced the same stage. The decade since has been an up and down one for the Houston trio, to say the least; both Willie D and Bushwick Bill spent time in prison on various charges (Bill was nearly deported in 2010), while Scarface has dealt with family issues surrounding his son last year. But things haven't been all negative, either: Scarface just released a memoir and all three MCs have continued releasing solo material.

But now the pioneering rap group is getting back together. Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill announced a month-long tour that will take them around the country beginning June 7 in the nation's capital and wrapping up on the 4th of July in Cincinnati. So far that's the extent of the reunion, but it may not be the end: according to Willie D, the group is on board to craft another album, with logistics so far being the only delay. "We know that we want to do a record but it's a situation where right now we're at the point of getting the paperwork done right so everybody's on the same page," the MC told XXL in a phone conversation last week. "Once we get the paperwork done then we can do it."

The Geto Boys have always balanced the rawness of their gangsta rap with a socially conscious morality in their music, with songs like "The World Is A Ghetto," "Crooked Officer" and "Six Feet Deep" among their best-known work. Two years ago, Willie D and Scarface linked again for the song "Hoodiez," with an accompanying video dedicated to Trayvon Martin. Now that the trio is back together, the social unrest in the world, but particularly in the U.S. over the past decade, has reinvigorated them. Ahead of the opening of the Geto Boys' tour, Willie D spoke to XXL about the reasons for reuniting, the possibility of crowd-funding an album and why he feels the group needs to speak on the police brutality that has come up again and again in this country. —Dan Rys

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2010 VH1 Hip Hop Honors - Arrivals

XXL: I wanted to ask you about a new Geto Boys project.
Willie D: Well, we're talking about some things, you know what I'm sayin'? We're getting real close but we haven't finalized anything as far as a project or a new album is concerned. We're talking about doing a new album.

But you've got the tour together, right?
Yeah, the tour's happening. The tour starts June 7 in D.C.

Why did you guys want to get back together for the tour?
It makes sense. That's what we do. The Geto Boys. [Laughs] We're artists, man, we perform. People want to see us perform. People wanna see the group together. We all had some pretty good success individually as solo acts, but there ain't nothin' like the Geto Boys.

Is there anything in particular that got you guys back together?
Nah, man. I think for us it's just always time, man. If you leave it up to the fans, we'd put a record out once a month. The fans, thank God, their support has never wavered. So for us it's a matter of us getting on the same page, getting our shit together. It's been 10 years, man. It's been 10 years and a lot has happened. A lot has happened socially in the country and in the world. People was demanding, more and more, they've been asking for us to speak on a lot of these issues, man.

You and Scarface got together a couple years ago for a music video dedicated to Trayvon Martin. Does that need to speak on social issues drive you guys, within the context of the Geto Boys?
Definitely, definitely. It's everything that's going on, with the police brutality the biggest thing, man. The police brutality really highlights the social and racial divide that we have in this country. You would think that with all the resources and intelligence and years of mistakes that we've made trying to coexist, you would think we would have our shit together. We consider ourselves to be smart. Think about America and what we think about each other and what we think about our country, we think we're the shit. We're really really arrogant about being better than other countries. But we make the same shitty-ass mistakes over and over and over. So how much better are we, really? How much have we really learned and really grown?

We talk about how the kids are not learning, the kids are not as smart as they used to be or whatever. They're technologically advanced, but in terms of them being educated, we're losing the battle of education. Leadership starts from the top. It's a whole lot easier to lead when you're practicing what you preach. Our country is not practicing what they preach in terms of education. You talk about being pro-education, but you cut back the resources that it takes to educate our children. You talk a good game about coming together and being a United States of America, but every time there's an issue, a racial issue out there, it's polarized by the division. Everything is still so much in this country based on race, and the court system is very biased, even to this day. I mean, what the fuck do we have to do to indict a cop in America and make it stick? Not indict and then a few months later while he's sitting at home, he gets all the police lawyers to come in with some shitty story to get him off the hook. But what the fuck will it take to indict a police officer and hold him accountable for his actions like regular Americans are held accountable for their actions? We have no mercy on regular Americans when they commit heinous crimes; we're like, "Fuck that, let's get 'em" type of shit.

They're special; they get special privileges that the rest of us don't get. These are the people who are supposed to keep the peace. You know we're in a bad place when people think of cops and they think of anything but peace now. That's the kind of climate that we live in.

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So we know what needs to change, but where does that change start in your opinion?
It starts with each person and someone saying, "Let's get together and do something about it. Let's get rid of this evil violence in America." Evil people run this country, let's get that straight. A lot of corrupt people run this country. That's why we're still in the same shithole we've been in for so long. We haven't advanced. Technology-wise we have, but as a human race, in the compassion department, we have not advanced. We have less love for our fellow man. Not only do we fear the people that don't look like us, we also fear the people who do look like us. I lived in my neighborhood for four years and my neighbor didn't speak to me once until he was like one month removed from moving out of the neighborhood. We don't look after each other, man.

To be honest, man, the government needs to be overthrown. That's it, I'll say it. Fuck it. I'll go on record and say it. Fuck it.

I think it can be easy to say that it starts with all of us, but that it's harder to get everyone together to agree on what that is.
It starts with compassion, man. Compassion is not compromised. Once you can find it in your heart to have compassion for your fellow man, compassion for your daughter, your son, your mother, your grandmother, your father, your siblings, you know, once you can have compassion then you find yourself doing the right things. It's easy to do the right thing and do right by people once you find compassion. This is racism, it ain't nothin' else. Until that changes, that's what it is. We gotta stop lying to ourselves, man. If I got compassion in my heart, not only do I feel compassion for the kid that I feel was gunned down unjustly, but also compassion for his surviving loved ones. I wouldn't talk bad about his family members, and I wouldn't fund the person who shot him. But for me to have compassion, I would also have compassion for a cop I felt was a good guy but he got killed in the line of duty.



The Geto Boys have always spoken about social issues in your guys' music. Is that what you want to address when you get back together?
Where we come from is just the struggle. And we know that it's a lot of people out there that want to be able to say what we're saying, but they don't have the platform, or they don't have the, I guess, the capacity to articulate the message the way we do. So they count on us to do it. They count on groups like us that have a message to go out there and speak up for the people, that's not afraid of being fired, that's not afraid that somebody's gonna say, "I don't like you, you're not really my friend." They count on people like us to stand on our own two and not be worried about getting their endorsements taken away. We don't have any endorsements so we're not worried about getting any endorsements taken away. We don't have any big companies backing us; we don't even have a record label. So we're doing our own thing, we don't have to worry about our message.

I know you had said you're not totally committed to a project yet. Where are you guys in that process? Is that something you guys do want to do?
We know that we want to do a record but it's a situation where right now we're at the point of getting the paperwork done right so everybody's on the same page. Once we get the paperwork done then we can do it. But we are in agreement that we want to do a new record.

There was a rumor about doing a Kickstarter-type, crowd-funded album rollout. Is that something you guys are looking into?
We've been exploring many possibilities and crowd-funding is not out of the question. It would be interesting to see, though, how many people would actually be willing to put their money where their mouth is. I hear a whole lot, I go on blogs, I'm on Facebook, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Instagram and people talk a whole lot of shit about wanting to hear that music with that message. People talk a lot of shit. It would just be interesting to see how many people will put something behind that besides just air. That would be very interesting. I know the hard core Geto Boys fans are gonna rally, I know that for a fact. But it's gonna be something to see to just see how many other people, if we were to go that route, would jump out there and go, "I'm gonna support this because they're gonna give me what I'm asking for, they're giving me exactly what I want. This is what I need to get behind, I'm gonna back this." So it'd be interesting.

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