There appears to have been a plethora of older hip-hop acts rushing to play the Observatory in recent months. It has been as if a faucet directly connected to hip-hop's Golden Era has been jammed to flow at its fullest and Santa Ana is its intended place to dispense. Some of these returning artists have been, mediocre, some have surpassed expectations and others have made us think that our heroes might have been better off staying home. For our latest edition, we had Texas hip-hop legends of legends, the Geto Boys.
Though the Geto Boys have had their own issues over the years — from legal problems to personal troubles — they have always remained as one of the most respectable acts in hip-hop's ever-aging canon. Very few groups can say they truly “pioneered” and paved the way for their whole region, and Geto Boys is one of those of those exalted few. Group members Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill have had successful solo careers in their own right, and have stayed actively basking in some form of spotlight. Scarface still gives some of the most eye-catching interviews of anyone in hip-hop, and, well, Willie D is basically a co-worker of us Village Voice/OC Weekly writers.
In our recent phone conversation, Willie D spoke to us about a multitude of things, one of them being whether or not he feels he and his Texas boys have received their “just due” in the industry. He doesn't really feel they have, and judging by the way they performed Sunday, it's as if they're still fighting for a top spot amongst their peers.
When it comes to watching older emcees perform, there's always that lingering weariness and uncertainty regarding physical condition and on-stage persona. Can they still move like they used to? Will they get winded quicker? Are their bodies even near performable shape anymore? These are always concerns when walking into a venue knowing the performers will be further in age than most. Geto Boys fans have lucked out, though.
Introduced by Scarface and first led by a rendition of “Chuckie” by Bushwick Bill and “Mind of a Lunatic,” the Geto Boys were as tenacious as ever. If anything at all, they appeared more energized and enthused than before. It's almost as if they were a new group with something to prove.
On wax, Willie D is one of the militant rappers you'll hear, and his live show is perfectly representative of that attitude. Scarface gave a performance that was just as good if not better than his Paid Dues outing, and Bushwick Bill was almost theatrical in his performance. Over two decades later, the Geto Boys still perform like the same group of young, hungry emcees they once were, and if they can continue as this pace, they'll have several tours left in them for a whole new generation of fans.
Random Notebook Dump: As always, there was a mini-fest before the Geto Boys even hit the stage. Surprisingly, there were a few worthwhile acts involved though. We can't recall any names, but they were worth the audience's attention.
Critic's Bias: Well, I mean, Willie D is technically a co-worker of us here at the OC Weekly, so we must be pretty big Geto Boys fans.
The Crowd: Unfortunately, probably one of the smallest we've seen. Thankfully, that didn't seem to phase anyone on stage in the slightest.