Even on tunes like “Mind Playing Tricks”?
Yeah man. I mean, it’s something that I agreed not to reveal back then, because you know, artists don’t like it. But I’ll say it this way, I won’t even go to deeply in that right now, because I don’t want to discredit nobody, but, I’ve always been like one of the fourth members of the Geto Boys that didn’t rap. So I just played my role on the side, but I was definitely creative in the topics.
I’ve always been like one of the fourth members of the Geto Boys that didn’t rap. So I just played my role on the side, but I was definitely creative in the topics.
The first thing the outside world heard about Geto Boys was how crazy what they were saying was. This was when you got dropped from Geffen Records over controversial lyrics. The press buzz was “This group is even crazier than NWA.”
Yeah, and my strategy behind that was—first of all, when I came back to Houston I came back to do us. I wanted to be us. I didn’t want to be nobody else. I wanted to be country. Everything that we was and we represented, that’s what I wanted to do.
My strategy behind songs like that was, the majors had video and radio monopolized back then. And you got to realize we were in the revolution stages of rap back then. It seemed like everybody was against what we were doing. Back then none of the majors wanted to look at me. So I had to create something that would cause controversy and get publicity in order to sell records. We became masters at that.
But then the label got freaked out. What happened with that Geffen deal?
Well, what happened was we done a deal with Rick Rubin, and Rick Rubin with Def America—he had a deal with Geffen. And David Geffen was putting out all of the rock and roll heavy metal acts that was much worse than what we was saying at the time. That wasn’t a problem.
But then the black man come along with the black-owned company and the rappers—the new movement—and he got real prejudiced about it. He got so prejudiced until he released Rick Rubin from his whole deal. Rick Rubin was able to get out of his whole deal with David Geffen because of us. And he went done a $10 million or so deal with Warner Bros.
I guess he owes you a thank-you note or something.
We were in the revolution stages of rap back then. It seemed like everybody was against what we were doing. Back then none of the majors wanted to look at me. So I had to create something that would cause controversy and get publicity in order to sell records. We became masters at that.
Yeah. But even bigger than that, I saw that that would be our last record with Rick Rubin. Because originally really I had done that deal to have access to that machine that David Geffen had at the time. So, when we done that one record with Rick Rubin, I got with him and we had a meeting and I told him it would be fair for us to go our separate ways.
And that’s what you did. Your label has stayed independent. You’ve never sold to anybody. Why is that so important to keep independent?
Well I consider myself a lion. You know what I’m saying? I’ve done it for a lot of reasons, you know? It’s a lot of my younger brothers that look up to me that I want to inspire. And I feel like and I know I’ve inspired a lot of them—from Master P to Cash Money to Tony Draper—and a gang of others that I don’t know about. By me keeping my independence and showing that I can survive in the midst of it. So all of that had a lot to do with me wanting to keep my independence even up to this day.
All artists I speak with today have a vision of their business model. They’re not just learning to rap, they’re learning to be CEOs.
I think the whole movement is bigger than Houston because the floor plan that we laid at Rap-A-Lot, I saw everybody duplicate it. From P to all of them—all independents. Because before we started releasing records like that, no one was doing it.
None of them was releasing records back-to-back like that. So it’s a floor plan that we originated and that movement in Houston is major. And it’s definitely all of it inspired from Rap-A-Lot. And shit, I feel proud to see these guys exercise their entrepreneurship the way they are, and knowing they got inspired by me just a little bit.
Five years ago Houston was the hottest thing in hip-hop. What happened?
My job here in Houston is to try and keep everything balanced. I don’t want anyone to destroy the foundation that I laid, so my job is to try to keep it balanced where the scale isn’t too tipping in any of these different areas. So we all can keep on eating in peace.
It’s harder with people that hadn’t had no practice with money. It’s your first time. Here you’ve been sitting on the sideline waiting for this opportunity all of your life, and then hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars drop in your lap.
You start feeling all kinds of shit. Which could be expressed in a lot of good and bad ways. My job here in Houston is to try and keep everything balanced. I don’t want anyone to destroy the foundation that I laid, so my job is to try to keep it balanced where the scale isn’t too tipping in any of these different areas. So we all can keep on eating in peace.
So what went wrong?
Well what happened was, the Houston artists didn’t take advantage of opportunities. You know what I mean? They didn’t apply their hustle aggressively when the spotlight was on the city. I mean, a lot of 'em got comfortable and started going in the club business. A lot of em started going in the grills business.
You know, they was going everywhere but the studio and performing and dancing while the spotlight was on the city. As if it was going to stay there waiting on them to finish all of those other activities and just be there when they got back. During their break, during their vacation, Miami really turned the heat up, and BAM. That’s what happened. The spotlight moved on Miami.