On stage at the Howard Theatre Sunday night, Willie D asked the enthusiastic audience what they thought about the Geto Boys releasing a new album. The crowd yelled its approval and made an even closer surge toward the front, pushing up against the stage with their arms outstretched, hands begging for dap. Willie D and Scarface spoke to each other with facial expressions as if to say, “Well… we got to give the people what they want.”
Scarface explained to the faithful flock that Washington, D.C. was intentionally made the first stop of the Geto Boys’ current tour because the group has always seen an abundance of support from this market. Returning the love, our cousins from Houston put on an outstanding show, which was definitely one of the best that we’ve seen from the hip hop acts that hit the Howard. But the greatest impression wasn’t made by the men’s energy, or their cool stage setup with DJ Mr. Lokey manning an improvised bar, or their setlist of fan favorites. The supreme gift from the Geto Boys last night was that they looked good and healthy, in their peak of artistry and manhood, poised to inspire a multitude of men who must necessarily take the lead in building a stronger nation.
The Geto Boys’ show demonstrated that artists continue to perfect their talents and become more powerful over time when they make the conscious decision to do so. The consideration of one’s mental and physical health are crucial to the self-conversation, as Scarface has articulated in recent interviews about his new book Diary of a Madman. The Geto Boys are looking better than ever, and because of their particular brand of hip hop, they are providing a very unique inspiration to a very unique fan base.
We’ve heard folks attempt to shame Black men over a certain age who dare to maintain their goals and aspirations of reaching audiences with hip hop. Even media sources that appear to applaud “rappers over 40” are still somehow implying that the continuation of one’s life art/work after a certain age is rare or out of the norm. Is it really so uncommon to spend your life perfecting your craft, to learn hard lessons along the way, and to journey through adulthood more fulfilled in your purpose and more confident in your artistic merit? Or is it just that hip hop’s go-to association is with young Black men? And aren’t they expected to die early? In this case, not just in physical form, but in the loss of means to create from their own genius.
We in go-go have been blessed to grow up with Chuck Brown, who was still performing after age 70, when he received his first Grammy nomination. It’s natural to us that artists find their groove and hold that pocket until death do [us] part. Rare Essence were the show openers Sunday night, and with special guest DJ Kool, they rationed out just enough crank to remind us why they’re called “The Wickedest Band Alive.” Many of our DC/Maryland/Virginia hip hop artists, as well as others around the nation, are still making albums on that grown man shit, making sure that grown music lovers can get their fill as mature clientele. Grownup art slangers is what makes The A.R.T. of Go-Go so important, because it’s All Related Talent that keeps [Black] art alive, keeps us learning from one another, and keeps us joining forces across genres, skill sets, cities, states, and countries. In Black art, we all we got, and the future belongs to those who can successfully join forces for the greater good of our many communities.
Community makes for another very exciting aspect of the Geto Boys experience as they tour. The A.R.T. (All Related Talent) of their world includes some of the most interesting men out of Houston, including Chef Freeway of Yep Yep Gumbo, which, to hear Houston tell it, is the best gumbo anyone has ever had. (And he doesn’t cook it with pork! Be cool, beating hearts!) Chef Freeway holds down merchandise and other tour-stop necessities for the Geto Boys and other artists. The on-stage bartender from Sunday night is his son, media personality DJ Mr. Lokey of Double Dose Entertainment and Trill 4 Life Radio. Houston’s finest ambassadors are definitely doing their city right.
Catch the Geto Boys on tour to get a healthy portion of what’s good for you. Locally, catch other artists who know how to deliver a show and strong substance. At this age, we can still perfect the art of being there, blurry camera shots or not. And may we all keep creating and loving our grown Black art. More photos on the DC Brand 99 Facebook page.