The Geto Boys (originally spelled Ghetto Boys) is an American hip hop group from Houston, Texas formed in 1986. The Geto Boys enjoyed success in the 1990s with the group’s classic lineup consisting of Bushwick Bill, Scarface and Willie D, earning several certified albums and hit singles, including “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” which reached No. 1 on the Hot Rap Songs and #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The original Ghetto Boys consisted first of Raheem, The Sire Jukebox and Sir Rap-A-Lot. When Raheem and Sir Rap-A-Lot left, the group added DJ Ready Red, Prince Johnny C, and Little Billy, the dancer who later came to be known as Bushwick Bill. The first single the group released was “Car Freak” in 1986, which then followed with two LPs “You Ain’t Nothin’/I Run This” in 1987 and “Be Down” in 1988. In 1988, the group released its debut album, Making Trouble. With the release receiving very little attention, the group broke up shortly thereafter and a new line-up was put together in which Bushwick Bill was joined by Scarface and Willie D, both aspiring solo artists. This new line-up recorded the 1989 album, Grip It! On That Other Level. The group’s 1990 self-titled album, The Geto Boys, caused Def American Recordings, the label to which the group was signed at the time, to switch distributors from Geffen Records to Warner Bros. Records (with marketing for the album done by Warner Bros. sister label Giant Records) because of controversy over the lyrics.
In the early 1990s, several American politicians attacked rap artists associated with the subgenre gangsta rap, including the Geto Boys. A high-profile incident in which Bushwick Bill lost an eye in a shooting helped boost sales of the group’s 1991 album We Can’t Be Stopped. The album cover features a graphic picture of the injured Bushwick being carted through a hospital by Scarface and Willie D. On the album’s title track, the group responded to Geffen Records ending its distribution deal with Def American. The album featured the single “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” which became a hit and charted at No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
After Willie D left the group, Scarface and Bushwick Bill continued with the Geto Boys with the addition of Big Mike, who made his debut appearance with the group on 1993’s album Till Death Do Us Part. Till Death Do Us Part was certified gold. The album spawned one top 40 hit in “Six Feet Deep” which peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Subsequently, Big Mike was dropped and Willie D returned for 1996’s critically acclaimed The Resurrection, and the 1998 followup Da Good Da Bad & Da Ugly, of which Bushwick Bill was not a part. After three years on hiatus, the group reunited in 2002 to record its seventh album, The Foundation, which was released on January 25, 2005. The Geto Boys were featured on Scarface’s My Homies Part 2 album.
On August 24, 2018, founding member DJ Ready Red died at the age of 53, from an apparent heart attack.
Following the stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis of Bushwick Bill, a farewell tour, titled The Beginning of a Long Goodbye, The Final Farewell was announced, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to pancreatic cancer awareness. But this tour was cancelled at the last minute. On June 9, 2019, Bushwick Bill died at the age of 52 of pancreatic cancer.
UGK (short for Underground Kingz) was an American hip hop duo from Port Arthur, Texas, formed in 1987, by Chad “Pimp C” Butler and Bernard “Bun B” Freeman. They released their first major-label album Too Hard to Swallow, in 1992, followed by several other albums charting on the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, including the self-titled Underground Kingz album, which contained their single “International Players Anthem (I Choose You)” and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, in August 2007. The duo has also been featured on hit singles by several other artists, such as “Big Pimpin’” by Jay-Z and “Sippin’ on Some Syrup” by Three 6 Mafia. Pimp C founded UGK Records in late 2005. On December 4, 2007, Pimp C died in his West Hollywood, California hotel room.
Originally from Port Arthur, Texas UGK members Pimp and Bun were from the same town as Janis Joplin and Robert Rauschenberg. Though the town of 60,000 has a significant African American population, it was not known for its rap scene. They called themselves “Underground Kingz” because their country rap style was so full of “slang and twang” they thought it inaccessible for outsiders. UGK blended “deep bluesy texures, triumphant church organs, thick funk and meaty soul“.
Bun’s rap style was described as a “speeding-train delivery” with lyrics that “feel sanded-down and coated by heavy lacquer”. Born Bernard Freeman, his childhood nickname “Bunny” was shortened to Bun.
Pimp, or Chad Butler, is the son of a trumpet player and has had an interest in music since childhood: “I come from a classical background, I came up singing Italian sonnets, Negro spirituals, and shit of that nature.” Even before studying musical notation in school he learned to play many instruments by ear including piano, trumpet, drums and flugelhorn. His vocal style is of a “high-voiced, unstable and provocateur, as likely to slap your face as to sing you a love song”. Influenced by Run-DMC, he started synthesizing beats to rap over after receiving a drum machine and keyboard one Christmas. Following the advice of Pimp’s stepfather to “put some music in that shit”, Pimp decided to move beyond Run-DMC’s kick–snare formula, opting instead for 808s and especially hi-hats.
Outkast (stylized as OutKast) is an American hip hop duo formed in 1992 in East Point, Georgia, composed of Atlanta-based rappers André “André 3000” Benjamin (formerly known as Dré) and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. The duo achieved both critical acclaim and commercial success from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, helping to popularize Southern hip hop while experimenting with diverse genres such as funk, psychedelia, jazz, and techno.
Benjamin and Patton formed the group as high school students in 1992. Outkast released their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994, which gained popularity after the single “Player’s Ball” reached number one on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks chart. With successive releases including ATLiens (1996) and Aquemini (1998), the duo further developed their sound, experimenting with a variety of styles and achieving commercial success. In 2000, Outkast released the critically acclaimed Stankonia, which included the singles “Ms. Jackson” and “B.O.B.“
In September 2003, the duo released the double album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, which featured the number one singles “Hey Ya!” and “The Way You Move.” The album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America. Outkast next released the soundtrack for the 2006 musical film Idlewild, which they also starred in. In 2007, the duo went on hiatus and both members have since pursued solo careers. In 2014, Outkast reunited to celebrate their 20th anniversary by performing at more than 40 festivals worldwide, beginning at the Coachella Festival in April.
The duo is one of the most successful hip hop groups of all time, having received six Grammy Awards. Between six studio albums and a greatest hits release, Outkast has sold over 25 million records. Meanwhile, they have garnered widespread critical acclaim, with publications such as Rolling Stone and Pitchfork Media listing albums such as Aquemini and Stankonia among the best of their era.
8 BALL & MJG
8Ball & MJG is an American hip hop duo from Memphis, Tennessee. The two rappers met at Ridgeway Middle School (Memphis, Tennessee) in 1984. In 1993, the duo released their debut album Comin’ Out Hard. They went on to release On the Outside Looking In (1994), On Top of the World (1995), In Our Lifetime (1999), Space Age 4 Eva (2000), Living Legends (2004), Ridin’ High (2007) and Ten Toes Down (2010).
8Ball & MJG first appeared on the rap scene with their underground 1991 album Listen to the Lyrics. In 1993, they released the successful album Comin’ Out Hard. Their subsequent albums in the 1990s, including 1994’s On the Outside Looking In, and 1995’s On Top of the World cemented their status as some of the South’s best rappers. On Top of the World was particularly successful, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 200 and being certified Gold. It also contained the song “Space Age Pimpin'”, which was 8Ball & MJG’s first single to chart, reaching #58 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart and #22 on the Hot Rap Singles chart. After those albums both 8Ball & MJG released solo albums, first MJG’s No More Glory in 1997 and then 8Ball’s Lost in 1998. They reunited in 1999 to release their fourth album as a group, titled In Our Lifetime. One year later in 2000, they released their fifth group album entitled Space Age 4 Eva.
In 1996, they appeared on the Red Hot Organization‘s compilation CD, America is Dying Slowly, alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as “a masterpiece” by The Source magazine. In the early 2000s they would sign with Sean Combs‘ Bad Boy Records. They already had some experience with the label, being featured on the song “The Player Way” from Bad Boy rapper Mase‘s 1997 album Harlem World. Their first album for Bad Boy Records, Living Legends, came out in 2004 and was certified Gold by the RIAA. Their second album on Bad Boy Records was titled Ridin’ High and was released in March 2007.
Commercially one of the high points of 8Ball & MJG’s career was their being featured on Three 6 Mafia‘s hit song “Stay Fly” in 2005. That song peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is the biggest hit of Three 6 Mafia’s career and the biggest hit for 8Ball & MJG. The song was a collaboration between two of the most successful rap groups from the state of Tennessee, whence Three 6 Mafia also hail. Today 8Ball and MJG also head their own record labels. 8Ball heads 8 Ways Entertainment (distributed by Koch Entertainment), while MJG heads MJG Muzik. On their label are the young, up and coming Memphis duo, Da Volunteers, who are widely known throughout the Southern United States for their 2006 single, “What’s Yo Favorite Color?”, which glorifies their neighborhood of Orange Mound.
In September 2007, 8Ball and MJG signed deals in Sacramento, CA with Real Talk Entertainment 8Ball released a group album with E.D.I of the Outlawz entitled Doin’ It Big on April 1, 2008 and MJG released a solo album entitled Pimp Tight on April 29, 2008. In June 2008 the group announced that they officially signed onto T.I.‘s record label Grand Hustle. Their eighth album as a group and their first on Grand Hustle, titled Ten Toes Down, was released in May 2010. It reached #36 on the Billboard 200 in its first week.
Goodie Mob, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is widely considered one of the founding hip hop acts of the (commerically viable) Dirty South movement. Members Cee-Lo (Thomas Callaway), Khujo Goodie (Willie Knighton, Jr.), T-Mo Goodie (Robert Barnett), and Big Gipp (Cameron Gipp) make up the group, which has been functioning since 1995.
“GOODIE MOb”, as it’s written on their album covers, means the “GOOD DIE Mostly Over bullshit”. Cee-Lo notes in a song off the Soul Food album that, “[If] you take out one ‘O’ it stands for ‘GOD Is Every Man Of blackness.’ “
Its members were all born in Atlanta, and the group is based there with the rest of the Dungeon Family, a collective which includes OutKast, Witch Doctor and P.A. (Parental Advisory). Goodie was first heard reciting haunting politically charged poetry on several songs from OutKast’s first album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. His reputation as a poet, thinker and social commentator is legendary in the southern hip-hop community.
Cee-Lo was the most visible member of the group prior to his departure in 2000 due in part to his distinct voice, while Big Gipp has made several rounds on other Dungeon Family members’ albums, and T-Mo and Khujo form a duo within the group called The Lumberjacks.
The powerful lyrics Goodie Mob is hailed for are certain to stimulate thoughts, as they are meant to educate as well as entertain. “I want anyone who picks up Still Standing to learn from our wins and our losses,” says Big Gipp. “We started out to be purposeful, but I’m glad this music is entertaining folk too.”
It is safe to say Goodie Mob has achieved both of their goals. In a time with much need for a fresh direction in rap music, Still Standing hits the shelves April 7th to provide a welcome change filled with positivity and laced with phat beats.
Still Standing, Executive produced by LaFace Records Co-presidents Antonio “LA” Reid, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and Organized Noize (OutKast, TLC, En Vogue), provides skilled production on a variety of different types of tracks which are sure to cross boundaries and reach music lovers of all kinds. Additional producers include Mr. DJ, DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill), and Craig Love. Both Cee-lo and T-Mo have stepped into the production arena this time as well by contributing a track a piece (Ghettology and Greeny Green, respectively).
The first release off Still Standing is “They Don’t Dance No Mo'”. “The title has a dual meaning,” explains Cee-lo, one of raps most respected voices. XXL Magazine claims that “Cee-lo is the E.F. Hutton of hip-hop: When he speaks, everyone shuts the fuck up.”
THREE 6 MAFIA
Three 6 Mafia is an American hip hop group from Memphis, Tennessee formed in 1991. Emerging as a horror-themed underground rap group, they would eventually go on to enjoy mainstream success. The group’s 1995 debut album Mystic Stylez would go on to become an influential cult classic. They have released music on independent labels such as Prophet Entertainment and their own Hypnotize Minds label, as well as Relativity, Loud, and Columbia Records.
Two of their albums are RIAA-certified Platinum: When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000) and Most Known Unknown (2005), the latter featured their hit single “Stay Fly“. In 2006 the group won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards for their song “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” from the film Hustle & Flow. The group’s latest studio album, Last 2 Walk, was released in 2008. Three 6 Mafia’s worldwide album sales stand at 5.5 million as of 2016.
Three 6 Mafia’s founding members became musicians at young ages. In 1988, DJ Paul, at age 11, was taking piano lessons, and his older brother, Lord Infamous, age 15, was a singer practicing bass and electric guitar. Paul could play piano and drums, Infamous sang and played bass and guitar. With that, the two would compose songs together.
At the same time, in North Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, Juicy J, at age 13, was learning how to DJ as well as rap. He had initially wanted to be a singer, but in the late 1980s and early 1990s he fell in love with the gangsta rap style, and he, like his future founding group members across town, wanted to make music like popular artists at the time such as N.W.A. and Geto Boys.
In 1989, DJ Paul and Lord Infamous formed the duo “Da Serial Killaz”. It was at this time they distributed their own mixtapes of popular songs at the time at school, and Lord Infamous had started rapping with his signature triple time flow. Juicy J was also creating his own mixes by this time, but was not putting his raps on tapes just yet.
By 1991, DJ Paul, had already begun to make a name for himself in the local hip hop scene through DJing at local clubs, such as Club 380 Beale, where he got his first opportunity to perform. His mixtapes, which were gradually evolving to include more and more original content of “Da Serial Killaz”, also helped spread word of his talents. At the time, the hip hop scene in Memphis had not taken a fully fledged form yet, but early works by artists such as DJ Spanish Fly and DJ Squeeky were hinting at what was to come. DJ Spanish Fly heard of Paul’s production skills, and recruited him to help make a beat. Paul’s work with Spanish Fly allowed him, at 14 years old, to quickly get his name out beyond the reach of his South Memphis neighborhood, and into a more established circle of the Memphis hip hop scene. Meanwhile, Lord Infamous was still rapping and evolving his lyrical style. Up in North Memphis, Juicy J was slowly building a name for himself as well, now that he was making his own songs and distributing them with his mixtapes, as well as DJing at local clubs with his mentor.
That same year, DJ Paul and Juicy J first crossed paths after Juicy sought out Paul in 1991 for help making beats. The two quickly grew fond of each-other’s musical styles and the two subsequently teamed up with Lord Infamous to form the group “The Backyard Posse”. DJ Paul and Lord Infamous still continued work as “Da Serial Killaz” by themselves, and in 1992 released the first legitimate original recording to come out of the eventual Three 6 Mafia camp, “Portrait of a Serial Killa”. Featuring dark beats by Paul and horrorcore-styled lyrics from Lord Infamous and DJ Paul, this tape is recognized in its raw form as a pioneering work of horrorcore hip hop. Juicy J in the meantime released his debut hard copy mixtape, Volume 5, that same year, as well as his seminal track in its original form, “Slob on My Knob”.
Robert Earl Davis Jr. (July 20, 1971 – November 16, 2000), better known by his stage name DJ Screw, was an American hip hop DJ based in Houston, Texas, and best known as the creator of the now-famous Chopped and Screwed DJ technique. He was a central and influential figure in the Houston hip hop community and was the leader of Houston’s Screwed Up Click.
Davis released over 350 mixtapes and was recognized as an innovator mostly on a regional level until his death of codeine overdose in 2000. His legacy was discovered by a wider audience around 2005, and has gone on to influence a wide variety of artists.
Robert Earl Davis, Jr. was born in Smithville, Texas. His father, Robert Earl Davis Sr., was a long-haul truck driver based in Houston. His mother Ida May Deary (who had a young daughter from a previous marriage), came to the area to be with her mother when her son was born in 1971. She returned to Houston, but the marriage was floundering; soon it would be over, and she and her kids moved to Los Angeles for a couple of years, then back to Houston, and returned to Smithville in 1980 when Davis was age nine.
When young, DJ Screw had aspirations of being a truck driver like his father, but seeing the 1984 hit break dancing movie Breakin’ and discovering his mother’s turntable attracted him to music. His admiration of classical music drove him to resume piano lessons. After seven years of practice, he was able to play works like Chopin’s Etude in C major by ear. His musical interest shifted as he took his mother’s B.B. King and Johnnie Taylor records and scratched them on the turntable the way DJs did, slowing the spinning disc and then allowing it to speed back up, playing with sound.
Davis began buying records of his own and would spin with his friend Trey Adkins, who would rhyme. “Screw had a jam box and he hooked up two turntables to it and made a fader out of the radio tuner so he could deejay.” Adkins said if Robert Earl didn’t like a record, he would deface it with a screw. One day Adkins asked him, “Who do you think you are, DJ Screw?” Robert Earl liked the sound of that and, in turn, gave his long-time friend a new name: Shorty Mac.
“The results of D.J. Screw’s labors often sound like rap records played underwater on an old cassette deck that’s running out of batteries and needs its tape heads cleaned. It is not music to dance to but music to lose yourself in, as if it is the last sound echoing in your head as you drift off to sleep.”
Davis began DJing at age 12 in 1983, and started his trademark slowed-down mixes in 1990, the style became his main focus in late 1991 – early 1992. The mixes began as special compilations requested by friends and those in the know. He soon made them available for sale when his close friend Toe offered to buy a mix from him for ten dollars. At that point, customers had increasingly begun requesting his more well-known mixes instead of personalized lists. During the early 1990s, he invited some of the Houston MCs from the city’s south side to rhyme on those mixes. This coalition of emcees eventually became the fathers of the Screwed Up Click. Many members of the Screwed Up Click, or S.U.C., are considered key figures in the canon of Houston hip hop. The original lineup included Big Hawk, Big Moe, E.S.G., and Fat Pat, among others. The crew later gained then upcoming artists such as, Z-Ro , Trae tha Truth as well as Lil Flip. His career began to advance once he met Russell Washington of BigTyme Recordz and signed to the label.
Davis later moved to a house in the 7600 block of Greenstone Street near Gulfgate Mall. Fans, some driving from far away areas such as Dallas and Waco, lined up at his door to obtain his recordings. He started his own business and opened a shop up on 7717 Cullen Blvd in Houston, TX, called Screwed Up Records and Tapes. It has been shown in numerous music videos and documentaries as well as independent films. In the early 2010s, this location closed. It has since been relocated to 3538 West Fuqua, Houston, TX. Fans may also purchase merchandise, including mixtapes, on the S.U.C. website. There are now several Screwed Up Records and Tapes spread out through Texas, including one in Beaumont and in Austin.
On November 16, 2000, Davis was found dead inside of his Houston recording studio in the 8100 block of Commerce Park Drive. Fans speculated about the true cause of his death. When the coroner reports were released, they confirmed that he died of a codeine overdose in addition to mixed drug intoxication. The codeine came from a prescription-strength cough syrup that he would mix with soda to concoct purple drank. In addition to codeine, Valium and PCP were found in his blood. His funeral took place at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in his hometown of Smithville, Texas.