Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Mind Playing Tricks on Me" (1991)

11. Geto Boys, "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" (Nov. 2, 1991, #23)

Far and away the single scariest song in all of my Billboard book—the only thing close is "D.O.A." by Bloodrock, which is larded through anyway with cheese. These three rappers out of Houston, Texas, who have constituted the Geto Boys since 1988—Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill—here do what rappers do, take turns discharging verbiage, as the chorus circles around a guitar figure from an Isaac Hayes song. Words, words, words, all telling stories from strictly internal POVs of gangsters cracking under the pressure. Scarface: "I'm poppin' in the clip when the wind blows / Every 20 seconds got me peepin' out my window." Willie D: "Here they come, just like I figured / I got my hand on the motherfuckin' trigger / What I saw'll make your ass start gigglin' / Three black, crippled and crazy senior citizens." Scarface again: "I often drift while I drive / Havin' fatal thoughts of suicide / BANG and get it over with." And then Bushwick Bill closes it with a story too long to reproduce here, one better experienced as intended anyway, as sound and mood and tone and inflection, about a vicious, titanic street brawl that turns into a hallucination: "It was dark as fuck on the streets / My hands were all bloody, from punchin' on the concrete." This is certainly stark dramatization of gangster life, which might strike some as a flavor of glorification, but clearly no one is having anything close to a good time. And I don't think the point is the moral of the story or the cautionary aspect anyway—it's the experience of it, the raw sensations, which are overwhelming.

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