Willie D says that TV One’s “Unsung” episode on the Geto Boys that premiered Wednesday (November 13) did a good job telling the group’s story.
“That’s about the most damn information I’ve ever seen in a [one-hour] program covering a group that spans 25 years,” Willie D says during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “They squeezed a lot in there, man, without it looking choppy.”
Originally known as the Ghetto Boys, the Houston-based the Geto Boys experienced a rotating cast of group members in its early years in the 1980s, which is detailed in the “Unsung” episode. The program also discusses group member Bushwick Bill being shot in the eye, Scarface’s bouts with depression, DJ Ready Redd’s departure from the group, the group’s hit single “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” and the challenges the Geto Boys faced due to the graphic subject matter and political commentary included in its music.
One example of the problems the Geto Boys faced centered on its The Geto Boys album, which was released in 1990. The album included reworked versions of several of the songs from its previous album, 1989’s independently released Grip It! On That Other Level, but the group’s material, which included the songs “Mind Of A Lunatic” and “Gangster Of Love,” caused major label Geffen Records to drop the Geto Boys. Then-producer Rick Rubin later landed distribution for The Geto Boys album through Noo Trybe Records.
“For us, it was always worth whatever type of rants that were to follow after exposing somebody,” Willie D says. “It was always worth it to give the information to the people so that the people could be informed.”
Willie D says that the group’s willingness to discuss what it perceived as socio economic injustice in unflinching terms provided inspiration to its fans. “The Geto Boys represent hope, man,” Willie D says. “Not just the fact that we were some dudes from the hood who made some music, come out and was able to make a living and escape the traps of the trap. We inspired a legion of people who were disenfranchised, underserved to do the same. They looked at us and said, ‘Well, damn. They came from nothing, just like me. If they can do something, and do something that they love on top of that, and impact millions of people, maybe I can do the same thing.’ That’s all we ever tried to do.”
In addition to his recording career, Willie D also pens “Ask Willie D,” an advice column that runs in the Houston Press and is syndicated to other papers throughout the United States.
Willie D says he views his column in the same light as he did his music.
“It’s connecting to the people,” Willie D says. “It’s giving information, man. People are suffering. People are in pain all over the world.”
A clip from the Geto Boys’ “Unsung” episode is below.