A decade after releasing their last LP, veteran Houston hip-hop group the Geto Boys have put their differences aside to record a new album, Habeas Corpus. The rap trio, best known for the 1991 hit "Mind Playing Tricks on Me," has started a Kickstarter page to finance the record.
"I'd like to take credit, but the fans really made it happen," rapper Willie D tells Rolling Stone. "It's hard to get all of us on the same page, 'cause everybody's always doing their own thing. We are three totally different people. We didn't grow up together. We're not blood-related. We didn't go to the same schools, didn't grow up in the same neighborhood. The one commonality that we do share is being in the group."
Willie D says the group has been in "virtual rehearsals," in which the trio raps to one another over the phone, but notes that tensions between Scarface, Bushwick Bill and himself are still "volatile."
"We fuckin' hate each other, man," he says. "It's like, 'Motherfucker, I don't even wanna be onstage with you. Can we put up three stages, man? I'll sing my verse, you sing your verse.'" He laughs. "The Geto Boys, man, we're that family that can't stand each other but love each other. That's us. Family's family, man: 'I can't stand that motherfucker, I wanna kill him.' Yeah man, but you can't do that to your family."
Despite the acrimony, the threesome is currently on its Office Space Tour – named in honor of the Mike Judge movie that included "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" on the soundtrack – which is taking them all across the U.S. this month.
While the group is on the road, the Geto Boys' Kickstarter will be attempting to raise $100,000 through July 15th to fund the making of Habeas Corpus. Willie D says the group decided to go the crowd-funding route for the record so they wouldn't be judged by label execs. "We're gonna go the fuck off on the new album," he says. "If it scared David Geffen back in 1990, it's gonna ruffle a few feathers in 2015."
The rapper also shrugged off returning to label Rap-A-Lot, which put out all of the group's previous albums. Willie D says he settled any issues he had with label head J. Prince when he returned to the Geto Boys fold in 1995. Nevertheless, he doesn't think Prince would be interested in putting the album out. "I think he's really just tired of dealing with the Geto Boys," Willie D says. "We hard to deal with. We're a fuckin' handful."
Habeas Corpus will feature tracks produced by longtime Geto Boys collaborators Mike Dean, Tone Capone, N.O. Joe, as well as tracks by as-yet-unnamed new blood. Scarface and Willie D will also be producing some songs themselves, and Ice Cube, who name-checked the trio on his 1992 hit "Wicked," is slated to make a guest appearance.
Along with the album, the group is producing a making-the-album DVD for backers and a 100-page art book, titled Pieces of Insanity, that Willie D wrote. The latter work will contain pieces by more than 40 artists, who drew inspiration from Geto Boys songs.
The group is also offering a number of unique funding rewards. On the low end, fans can get a digital download of the album with an exclusive bonus track, a T-shirt, an autographed copy of the CD and a meet and greet. Fans who shell out thousands, however, can go bar-hopping with Bushwick Bill, play golf with Scarface (and receive autographed golf balls), get their product endorsed by Willie D and go backstage at one of the group's concerts.
The most extravagant item for a Geto Boys lifer (pun intended) is a custom-designed casket, complete with an embroidered pillow autographed and designed by the trio. This "true once-in-a-lifetime" opp will go for $10,000.
"We've done some shows in the last year or so, so we know what we're doing," Willie D says of the album. "We know what the fans wanna hear. We got it pretty tight."
Additional reporting by Christopher R. Weingarten