For a guy who basically never listened to rap growing up, I have seen my share of classic hip hop acts:
Del La Soul
Mos Def aka the dude from Dexter
So when the chance to see legendary Houston hip hop act Geto Boys came up at SXSW, I had to jump at the chance. Since discovering the track “Damn It Feels to be a Gangster” while watching a Vince Carter dunk compilation on youtube, I have been fond of the threesome’s music. Then someone made a muppet version of “My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me” and I was hooked.
Taking the stage roughly after nine, the group were introduced one by one, with Willie D coming on first with a very gangster bandana over the mouth look. I wonder how many jobs you can go to wearing a tank top with a bandana over your mouth. I imagine not many. Next up was Scarface, also known as the man who runs Def Jam South, who also did a solo number before introducing the man everyone was waiting for – Bushwick Bill.
The little dude exploded onto the stage to rapturous applause and the group started into their hour plus set which also included skits (most of them unfunny) to set up some songs. I am wondering if these in-between song skits are the ones that led to random skits being placed on rap albums. I am not particularly familiar with the groups music and I might have been the only one at the sold out stage. The crowd was going nuts, they had their hands in the air, and definitely did no care if they were waving it around. Say what you will about hip hop music, but they easily have a funner crowd then any indie rock act. It helps that Bushwick Bill is a firecracker on stage, with costume changes and crazy dances, it made me feel bad about my own lack of energy.
Of course the two highlights for me were the two songs I actually knew. Busted out halfway through the set, the group did a beat-box/acapella version for Damn It Feels Good To be a Gangster, and of course the crowd sang along. Listening to the verses that the Geto Boys had and comparing to rap from the early 00’s, it’s easy to see how everyone seems to gravitate towards classic hip hop today. The songs are stories and have memorable (if not overly violent, gangster) lines, even if the line is
And all I gotta say to you
Wannabe, gonnabe, cocksuckin’, pussy-eatin’ prankstas
’cause when the fry dies down what the fuck you gonna do
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Set closer My Mind’s Playing Tricks on Me set off the already enthusiastic crowd and everyone was bouncing. A great accomplishment at SXSW, where most of the crowd is either too exhausted or drunk to do anything.
Opening up for Geto Boys was a band I had no knowledge of, Ultramagnetic MC’s. The group did feature Kool Keith, who wore a very shiny version of a roman helmet. The other dude also had funky adidas shoes with wings on it. Their set was good but not knowing their music, I was unable to participate in many of the call and responses and as such, didn’t find myself too amuse.