So what was the first record you put on wax?

Let’s see the first record I put on wax, I think it was “Car Freaks.” That was Sir Rap A Lot and the other two guys I was telling you about. It was a 12-inch single. “Car Freaks.” And they was happy just to have their voices be on wax. What we did was there was flooded the clubs. We were more excited to get it played and see people respond to it at the end of the night.

Were people from Texas glad to hear their own slang on a record?

Yes and no. Because “Car Freaks,” it wasn’t a hit record. You know what I’m saying? Everybody didn’t embrace it. And Houston, believe it or not, was a hard nut to crack back then. Just because you put out a record, everybody didn’t embrace you. We had to come with that record before we was able to kick in all the doors and not only get Houston but the world to embrace us.

So what was that record?

That record for the world, globally, was “Mind Playing Tricks.” Now before “Mind Playing Tricks,” the one to really get us a lot of street credibility was Scarface “The Dope Game Cocaine.” Mr. Scarface song. And that’s the song, from a street perspective, because we didn’t get radio or video with that song, but it was huge. It was huge enough to take us gold, just off of that one song. It was so strong, it was a street anthem.

 

I would go to Def Jam and me and Lyor Cohen would sit there and he actually opened up check books and showed me the numbers that really grabbed my attention. And there was LL Cool J checks and Whodini checks. I went to see all these checks and this money, so I was like “Whoah—it’s some money in this shit!”

 

Half a million units for the single?

No, no, no. Not vinyl. That was the album.

Did you know Scarface was going to be such a prolific artist when you first met him?

I didn’t know how big he would be, but you know, I shook the town inside out after leaving New York. Let me go back and tell you how a lot of this unfolded. When I first started Rap-A-Lot—maybe the first year or two—I wasn’t as involved as I should have been. I was doing other work. You know, I was making money doing other work. And it was with my last piece of money that I decided to get involved and do everything my way.

I had moved the company to New York for like six months with my partner Cliff. And things didn’t go too well out there. But I went out there like the last 3 weeks of the last month in New York and I had the opportunity to clear my head and focus.

I would go to Def Jam and me and Lyor Cohen would sit there and he actually opened up check books and showed me the numbers that really grabbed my attention. And there was LL Cool J checks and Whodini checks. I went to see all these checks and this money, so I was like “Whoah—it’s some money in this shit!”

So I went home that night and I remember saying to myself—and I told the staff and everybody—I said we got to uproot and move back to Houston. And they was like, “What are you talking about?” Because they were following the New York movement.

You got to realize, New York was a powerhouse back then, so everybody wanted to follow that movement. And it was up until I was able to clear my head and see what was going on. I said “Naw.” I say, for my last piece of money, y’all gonna have to listen to me. I told the artists this, I told everybody. I said, “I want to go back [to Houston] and finish my Geto Boy mission.”

 

“Naw.” I say, "For my last piece of money, y’all gonna have to listen to me." I told the artists this, I told everybody. I said, “I want to go back [to Houston] and finish my Geto Boy mission.”

 

Because I had tried it with the “Car Freaks” one time before then. So that trip enlightened me to come back to Houston. And I met with the Geto Boys that I had and they couldn’t see my vision. Because I told them. I said, “I want to write this shit.”

I know what y’all are trying to do, I’m living what y’all trying to do. I said I want to write a lot of this shit and I just want y’all to make it rhyme for me. So they told me I was was too deep, you know, the members. They said “You too deep man... Woop woop woop.” So I got rid of all of ’em.

That’s when I decided to shake the city inside out. Every part of town. That’s when I came up with Bushwick Bill on the East side. He was from Bushwick, New York. But he was out here at a club and I saw his talent dancing. He was a dancer for the Geto Boys originally.

And of course we had the DJ Reddy Red, which is from Jersey, some part of Jersey, but he was our DJ. And then you had Willie D, which is from Fifth Ward, and you had Scarface which is from the South side. So I had to tap into all these three talents, and my last talent I tapped into was Scarface.

So how did you discover Scarface?

Actually, I used to own a club, I walked out the club and Scarface was playing his music for one of my DJs, and I heard it. Nobody knew I was standing there, and I heard Scarface, it was in pre-production, it wasn’t finished, and he's playing that song. And I was like “Whoah—this is my other Geto Boy!” So I got him that night and kept him with me until 6 or 7 o clock that morning.

 

I said, “I want to write this shit.” I know what y’all are trying to do, I’m living what y’all trying to do. I said I want to write a lot of this shit and I just want y’all to make it rhyme for me. So they told me I was was too deep, you know, the members. They said “You too deep man... Woop woop woop.” So I got rid of all of ’em.

 

What I had to do though, which was a major decision, was—I had to figure out a way to replace my brother with Scarface. Because his talent was that overwhelming, right? So I told my brother, I said, “Man, looka here, we gonna get together and go to Reddy Red’s house and I want you to compete with this guy—and whoever wins this competition is going to be the Geto Boy. Of course he felt he was the hottest shit ever. And I took them there man, and they went to flowing back and forth. And my brother looked at me when they got to going into them deep topics. He looked at me like, “Damn, I understand.”

So he gave you the blessing?

I had to have it. Whether he gave it to me or not, it was the right thing to do, business-wise. Now personally it was a different thing. And then you know, family—nobody understood that decision until houses and cars came later. It was just that deep. You mention Scarface, I saw his talent. And it was... He had overwhelming talent, man, even back then.

I’ve never heard you were writing some of those lyrics.

Oh yeah.

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