Willie D: Knuckle Up

posted December 29, 2004 12:00:00 AM CST | 0 comments

Somewhere in Texas, southern rap legend Willie D of the Geto Boys is riding in a Cadillac with his attorney. Theyre discussing the assault charges hes facing. On the radio, Aaron Nevilles soft melodic voice is purring from the cars speakers.Turn it up a little bit, he tells his lawyer. They continue to go over the details of his case. Turn it up some more, says Willie. Despite the seriousness of the allegations against him (D is also a part time professional boxer, thereby making his hands a lethal weapon), the rapper seems more interested in hearing the soothing sound of soul music than the legalese coming from the drivers set. That scene, as described by Willie D, is a perfect representation of the man himself. Hes part guerrilla; part gentleman. Hes the conflicted street soldier torn between right and wrong as evidenced on his solo projects Im Goin' Out Like A Soldier, Play Witcha Mama and most recently Loved By Few, Hated By Many. With the release of the Geto Boys ninth album, War & Peace on Jan. 25th, Willie will once again bring his unique perspective on life to the masses.

Youve said that the Geto Boys are still championing the cause of the underserved. Who are the underserved? "The poor and the uneducated. They dont really have a voice. Dont get it twisted though. There are some educated folks that fell on hard times for one reason or another and find themselves in these situations too. The elderly. They dont have the strength to fight anymore. They dont know where to go and find out different things about this program or that program. Those are the underserved."

What more can be said in gangsta rap that hasnt already been said? "Keep saying some more shit. Keep saying it louder. I know its not that easy when youre getting pressure from the record label. Theyre like, hey we feel you about these issues, but maybe we should tone it down."

Who do you see out there speaking about real issues today? "Of course Geto Boys, but there are some other people like Common, Kanye West...thank God for Kanye West and Queen Latifah. Its actually unfair to name people because there are so many you forget.

Those artists are more

Right. Im talking about artists that are more hardcore like Geto Boys, bringing the social and political commentary with it. "Its like that boxer out there no one knows about. He just aint surfaced yet. I dont know who they are, but they out there."

So, basically there isnt anyone in the market right now? What about Eminem? Hes been mixing in a lot of real issues into his music...like his attack on President Bush in Mosh. "I think he deserves credit for that. Anytime you take a chance on jeopardizing your finances...you know. People jeopardize they life all the time, but seldom jeopardize they finances. Hes coming after the president...someone who could put a contract out on him. But he gets away with a lot more because of all the other stuff he does...cross-dressing and all that. People dont know if hes serious or not. Its likes hes on the fence.

Who are you listening to right now? What are you playing in the ride? "I dont listen to rap music. I listen to 70s R&B, 80s R&B; James Taylor is always in my CD deck and The Police."

The new generation was raised on rap music. They havent really been exposed to
white artists who were making popular music in the late 70s and 80s. Do you think
theyre lacking some of that musical diversity the original Hip-Hop generation had?
"Good music has a way of finding its way to your heart. It found me in jail. When I was 18...actually like 17, I listened to white artists [for the first time] in jail. I had no knowledge of being around white people.
I was under the impression white folks couldnt sing and didnt have no rhythm. That was just my ignorance. But, anyway there was a show called Video Jukebox that we used to watch in jail and this music video by John Cougar Mellencamp came on called Jack and Diane. I turned the channel as soon as it came on. I wasnt trying to hear that shit, but my man was like, let me watch that before you turn it. I was like naw. We kept going back and forth like that until we was about to get into it. I was like, damn this nigga want to fight me over this music video? He know Im cold with these hands. So I just sat there and listened to it and it was hot, but I didnt let him know. After that, I just wanted more and more. When I got out of jail, I started dating women who had been exposed to different things than me. They exposed me to a lot too like that James Taylor. Right now, theres nothing you can play [musically] that I cant get down with."

Would you describe your relationship with Scarface and Bushwick Bill as friendly or is it strictly business? "Its business. If it wasnt about business, wed all be rich."

So, if you guys were really cool, youd all be eating the same.
"Dig what Im saying!?!"

Understood. So, whats the recording process like between the three of you?
"Get in that muthafucka and get in where you fit in. Basically, the structure is
unstructured. Im not with the lying. Im not going to [sugar coat] it. We should be as big as the Grateful Dead or The Police. Dont blame it on the label when you dont do what youre supposed to do. Dont give the label an excuse not to promote you. You missing interviews. You missing photo shoots and meetings. Dont make the label come looking for you. Dont have them wondering, is he gonna help promote the album? Or is he gonna hang out in Jamaica? You cant blame that on the label."

When was the last time you heard something on a record that shocked you or caused you to raise an eyebrow? "Juvenile say some crazy shit, but he say shit that I would say. Like on his new album with UTP he say Order a drink and sit yo black ass down. Thats some real shit. I love how he put regular conversation in the rap."

My next question deals with something Ive always wondered about. Southern rap music is running things right now. Why didnt Rap-A-Lot sew up the South? "In my opinion, I dont think the vision was there. James "Lil J" Smith had in his mind this is what Im gonna do and if I make something out of it [great.] Hes real. He takes careful steps before making a [business] move. Personally, its helped his
fortune by not losing money. On the other hand, you have to take chances. Theres
really no limit to what you can [achieve.] But yeah we could have sewn up the whole

Do you think that lack of initiative after "We Cant Be Stopped" blew up caused you guys to seek out solo projects? "We Cant Be Stopped exceeded all of our expectations. There was no ingenuity behind a Mind Playing Tricks On Me. We just made that record, sent it to the radio and it blew up. Stuff like that only happens once in a lifetime."

Its kinda like lightning in a bottle.

So when do we get another Willie D special?
"Oh Im coming. Best believe that. Im coming."

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