Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 29: Celebrating 25 Years ---> Geto Boys - Grip It On That Other Level (1989)

Today's session is being brought to us by Kevin "Tic" Robinson!



Release Date-  March 12, 1989



Members: Willie D, Scarface, Bushwick Bill, and DJ Ready Red
Producers: DJ Ready Red, Doug King, James Smith, John Bido, & Johnny C

 
I was introduced to this group via tape from a childhood friend around late 1989 or early 1990 maybe. He called me up and told me "wait until I hear this new tape he got". Back then, being young and wide eyed, we were all about hearing hardcore vulgar rap music. And he knew I had to hear this album. The tape he brought me had the first cover above and their name was spelled Ghetto Boys before the legal issues with the name. Anyway, long story short, I was blown away with the rawness of this album. Prior to Geto Boys, I did not think it could get any rawer or vulgar than N.W.A. Well, "Grip It! On That Other Level" changed my view on that. I have been a fan of this group since. This is their 2nd album, but with a new line-up from the debut album, "Making Trouble". This is the line-up that would make hip hop history and influence the whole southern region. Let’s get into the album:



1. Do It Like a G.O.
This song gets straight to the point about what level this entire album is going to be on. Bushwick Bill kicks the song off, but the next stanza is what caught my attention. When Willie D opens his bars with “it's time to step on some motherfuckin toes (Nah D!)/Man, fuck them hoes!”, those lines get me hype to this day. After a straight ride of lyrical aggression, the track ends with James Prince (Lil’ J) cussing out the owner of “White-Owned Records” refusing to sell-out. The Geto Boys have arrived! 



2. Gangsta of Love
Once again, being young and of course fascinated with the forbidden, this song is the one that I played over and over again. The beat is so smooth and the lyrics were raunchy and hardcore. The hook samples Steve Millers Band’s song “The Joker” and it fits perfectly with the subject matter of the song, which was basically how cold they were with their game when it came to the hoes (not women, don’t get it twisted). 



3. Talkin’ Loud Ain’t Saying Nothin’
This song showed that Geto Boys were more than just mindless, violent, raunchy music. I like how they all came from their on point of view of this title. Face writes his verse in story form, Bushwick talks about hypocritical critics, and Willie D's two verses are written in first person style, they're also the hardest too. Play this song for those liars in your life and they will get the message.



4. Read These Nikes
This is the first solo record of this album and the title alone should let you know some foolishness is about happen..lol. Willie D takes us on a journey for four verses into the world of kicking ass for stepping to him incorrectly. I did not realize until decades later that "Nike" in this song was an acronym for “Nigga Insane Kicking-ass Extremely”. Do I really need to go into any more depth about what this song was about?...lol.

    
5. Size Ain’t Shit

First, let’s be honest. Thanks to T.V. and the general media, midgets or little people have always been something to laugh at or to be ridiculed. When I first noticed there was midget in this group, I did not know how to take it. It was odd how his presence on the album cover made me feel kinda odd but intrigued at the same time. This is the second solo song on this album and it belonged to Bushwick Bill all the way. Whose ever idea it was for this song, they were smart to tackle the issue of him being a little person, not on some "poor lil me tip", but on some "no matter your size he will get in yo azz tip". This song put any doubts about Bushwick being a Geto Boy to rest.




6. Seek and Destroy
Before he was known as Scarface, he went by the name DJ Akshun. This is the third solo song on this album and it was the first and last time we would hear a song under his DJ Akshun moniker. This song has the most technique displayed out of the whole album. Face was more on an east coast rhyme vibe for this song. It’s kinda outta place compared to the other songs on this album, but I always thought it was a nice change of pace.


7. No Sellout
While I love the message of this song, it is my least favorite song on this album. Most of that is because I’m not a big fan of the production. This was another song that showed the Geto Boys had some range in their subject matter, and it’s the only clean song on the album featuring only Willie D and Scarface.

  
8. Let A Ho Be a Ho
“Yo D, man what’s up with that cash register shit?” This may be my second or at the least third favorite song on this album. It’s the fourth solo song on here and the second for Willie D. The title is self-explanatory…stop trying to change something that does not want to be changed. Willie D kicks nothing but street game in this song and it really influenced me for the better or worst. There is a message here once you get past the surface of it. If you know someone is no good, it should not surprise you when they do you wrong or do wrong things. Songs like this is one of the reasons Willie D is one of my favorite rappers.

  
9. Scarface
This is the fifth solo song on this album. It is a song by DJ Akshun coming from the point of view of a dope dealing killer. It was called "Scarface" because they sampled voices from the movie of the same name. The title stuck with DJ Akshun and people started calling him Scarface after this album all because of the title. This is one of the most popular and influential songs off this album. This is the song that gave us the legendary Scarface and was the intro to his vivid storytelling skills.

  
10. Life in the Fast Lane
This is the sixth and final solo song on this album. One thing that made the Geto Boys unique was all their albums would follow this blueprint of including solo tracks as the norm. DJ Akshun (Scarface) is showing off his flow and storytelling skills in one of the better songs on this album.


11. Trigga-Happy Nigga
Another song where all 3 members come from their specific point of view considering the title. The production is top notch and the hook is just right. Akshun (Face) has two verses on this one with the others having one a piece. 


12. Mind of a Lunatic
Prior to this song I had never heard a song as violent as this one. This is the one that made me a future fan of real hardcore lyrics. This song surpassed your typical shoot’em up street talk. Most of that is due to Bushwick’s first two verses. Like Akshun with the song Scarface, this song is what gave Bushwick his insane crazy rapper image. All of them are pushing the envelope of controversial lyricism with this song. We would find out later this is actually the toned down version of the song.




My overall grade for this album based on when it came out breaks down like this:

Lyrics- B+
Subject Matter- B
Production- B+
Entertainment- A+
Originality- A


"Grip It! On That Other Level" is one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time. I would like to thank Wayne Maye for this opportunity to give my opinion on one of my favorite albums. Hope you enjoyed it! Hotep.

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