Label: Rap-A-Lot Records

It was before "Mind's Playing Tricks On Me" put them on the national map, before N.O. Joe and Mike Dean gave them their own distinctive sound, back when Brad "Scarface" Jordan was still going by the name Akshen, but by the time of 1989's Grip It on That Other Level, the Geto Boys had become the Geto Boys: a wholly formed arsenal, ready to bend rap towards the Dirty South.

Composed mostly of beats and flows that adhered to styles pioneered by New York stalwarts like the Juice Crew and Eric B. and Rakim, with most songs serving as a solo showcase for either 'Face, Willie D or Bushwick Bill to express their personal flair, the album nevertheless coheres with itself and shines as its own special kind of thing. It's own special truly appalling, shocking, riveting, thrilling kind of thing, of course.

Kind of remarkable that a full 25 years later, you're hard pressed to find gangsta rap any more horrifically vile, misogynistic or violent in its lyric content. They took it there, all the way there, way back when. Music has never gotten any tougher, or more honest in its depiction of the way a lot of frustrated young men talk when they're together. And amazingly, even for many who might blanch at the language or anger therein, you'd hard pressed to find any that sounds very much better. —Dave Bry