July 22, 2010
Reader Review: Geto Boys - We Can't Be Stopped (July 1, 1991)
(Today's Reader Review is for We Can't Be Stopped, the fourth effort from Houston's own Geto Boys. P_Captain provides some brief commentary this time around, so be sure to leave him some notes when you're done reading.)
The Geto Boys, made up of rappers Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill, along with DJ Ready Red, followed up their controversial eponymous third effort with We Can't Be Stopped less than one year later. Although he had contributed beats here and there, and even managed a few vocal appearances, DJ Ready Red decided that it was best for him to leave the group and enjoy his newly married life instead, thereby leaving the group the trio that most hip hop heads are most familiar with.
They decided to carry on without him, getting help from the rest of the in-house producers in the Rap-A-Lot family. However, before recording even started, Bushwick Bill shot his eye out. No, seriously: after one night of drinking the shit out of some Everclear while suffering from depression, Bill asked his girlfriend at the time to shoot him. She refused, so Bill took out his pistol, loaded it, and handed it to her; following an argument, the gun went off and his eye was completely destroyed.
Bushwick Bill managed to survive the accident after being rushed to the hospital; after a few days of recovery, Scarface and Willie D came to visit their friend and snapped what ended up being the cover photo for We Can't Be Stopped, on which Bill's damaged eye is clearly visible. (You can hear about the accident in greater detail by checking out Bushwick Bill's solo song "Ever So Clear" from his album Little Big Man.) Following the near-tragedy, the Geto Boys returned to the studio and began to record their fourth album (okay, technically it was their third album as a the Geto Boys; the first album released under the name, Making Trouble, was performed by an almost entirely different group of people under the same name and record label).
While their previous albums were centered lyrically around violent gangsta rap and, on occasion, took left-field excursions into deeper tracks such as "Life In The Fast Lane" and "City Under Siege", We Can't Be Stopped found the trio improving their writing and expanding their horizons (everyone except Bushwick Bill, that it: he was still new to the craft of songwriting and let his friends pen his rhymes). Also, for some reason, We Can't Be Stopped made a conscious effort to include more solo songs for each member than other group efforts had previously.
Anyway, onto the review.
1. REBEL RAP FAMILY
Rap album intro. Next!
2. WE CAN'T BE STOPPED
After the controversy that surrounded their previous effort, the Boys put the Parents Music Resource Center (or the PMRC, as they're better known) and their former label, Geffen Records, on full blast, and everything they say is noteworthy. Willie D manages to turn in the best performance.
3. HOMIE DON'T PLAY THAT
A Willie D solo over a mix of familiar samples, most notably Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep". I can only relate to some of what he's talking about, but it's easy for anyone to see where he's coming from. As an added bonus, his yelling style appears in full force on here, and he doesn't let us down.
4. ANOTHER N----R IN THE MORGUE
Scarface's first solo song, and to the surprise of nobody who has taken the time to read the song's title, he elects to stick with his gangsta rap background, threatening his enemies as only he can.
Finally, Bushwick Bill receives his first solo track, with lyrics written by horrorcore rapper Ganksta NIP. The song clearly mirrors what the average NIP song would say, but the guest writer isn't short, and therefore, this was obviously made with Bushwick Bill in mind. For his part, Bill takes on the persona of the killer doll from the Child's Play movies, and the lyrics are so over the top that you can't help but laugh at the sheer audacity of it all.
6. MIND PLAYING TRICKS ON ME
This classic exercise in the power of paranoia is simply legendary, as everything from the chilling Isaac Hayes sample to the verses are all perfect. I honestly don't think there's a need to explain why this song is so amazing: this is the group's signature song for good reason.
7. I'M NOT A GENTLEMAN
Another Willie D solo. Also quite the anti-chivalry theme song.
8. GOTA LET YOUR NUTS HANG
Scarface solo number two, and I'm betting that most new listeners will recognize the first few lines thanks to 2Pac sampling it on his "Point the Finga" track from Strictly 4 My N.*.*.*.*.Z.
9. FUCK A WAR
One of the best anti-war hip hop songs out there, thanks to Bushwick's angrily passionate lyrics and the quick sample of Eric B. & Rakim's “I Know You Got Soul” that weaves in throughout. This track contains one of the best performances that I've ever heard from a rapper ever.
10. AIN'T WITH BEING BROKE
The third and final group song features the Geto Boys discussing poverty and discovering new ways to improve their financial situations. The catchy sing-along chorus steals the show.
What a waste of a smooth beat. Scarface uses up his third solo effort on a pointless sex rap with one of the most unimaginative choruses ever recorded, consisting of a girl moaning and nothing more.
12. PUNK-BITCH GAME
This isn't an actual song, so you can just skip it.
13. THE OTHER LEVEL
Bushwick Bill gets a sex rap, too, and he takes it as far as he can physically go. Clocking in at about six minutes long, though, it wears out its welcome very quickly.
The final track on We Can't Be Stopped is Willie D's third solo effort, and he puts all of his guns to use in his attack on the popularity contest better known as the Grammy awards. (Hey, better than the American Music Awards, right? Those things are even fucking useless as paperweights.) I'm definitely with him when it comes to the real Grammy winners mentioned at the end, though.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Thanks in part to "Mind Playing Tricks On Me", We Can't Be Stopped proved to be a success, earning the Geto Boys a well-deserved platinum plaque. Although some of the tracks don't hold up as well as I would like, it's still a pleasing listen, and at only fourteen tracks, it doesn't overstay it's welcome. The project doesn't manage to beat out its predecessor, but it comes pretty damn close, with some fairly consistent production work and some great performances by all three of the Boys.
BUY OR BURN? Without question, I think you should buy this album. If you are the overly sensitive type, listening to this might even help you mature and not sweat the small stuff.
BEST TRACKS: "Mind Playing Tricks on Me"; "Chuckie"; "I'm Not a Gentleman"; "Ain't with Being Broke"; "Fuck a War"
(Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave some messages below.)