The Houston, TX born and bred rapper Willie James Dennis, better known to the world as Willie D, will forever be remembered as a third (and for a short period of time, half) of the Houston based rap group, the Geto Boys. After the first Ghetto Boys album flopped, Rap-A-Lot Records CEO, James Prince, decided to drop the “h” and a “t” from the spelling of the group’s name, along with two of the original members, whom he would replace with Scarface and Willie D. This revamped version of the Geto Boys would release three albums together, Grip It! On That Other Level, The Geto Boys, and We Can’t Be Stopped.
Few may remember that Willie D already had a solo deal with Rap-A-Lot Records, and one solo album under his belt, with his 1989 release, Controversy, before joining the Geto Boys. After their 1991 platinum selling release, We Can’t Be Stopped, Willie D decided to leave the group to focus on his solo career again. Still signed to Rap-A-Lot, he would release his sophomore solo effort I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier in the fall of ’92.
The liner notes for I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier are a little weird and confusing: it’s an eight page layout, but 2 of the pages are completely blank. Furthermore, Willie randomly chooses to include the lyrics for only two of the sixteen songs in the liner notes, and instead of listing credits for each track, he lists all the producers who contributed anything to the album on the back of the jewel case (himself, Crazy C, Bido, Roland, and Goldfinger). Awkward mucher.
I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier stirs up a bit of nostalgia for me. Back in the day when it came out, one of my boys had this on cassette; and for a few months, between his Walkman and mine, this one was in heavy rotation as we would recite Willie’s rhymes back and forth to each other, before erupting into laughter. When I spotted it at one of the used music spots I visit for a few dollars, it was a no brainer.
Profile of a Criminal – An extend intro that re-introduces Willie D to the world, and sets up the next song.
I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier – Willie D spends the title song dropping boasts, posing random threats, and strangely brings up his alleged beef with his Geto Boy brethren Scarface and Bushwick, only to neither confirm or deny that there is any truth to the claim. I’ve always found Willie D’s angry rants, in his thick Houston accent, entertaining (and extremely amusing), as he yells lines like “you aint never seen a muthafucka, kill a muthafucka, like a muthafucka named Willie D, muthafuckaaaa!”, and forces words to rhyme that don’t naturally (i.e.”slaughter” with “reporter” and “morals” with “loyal”). Good laughs aside, the instrumental is lackluster and the song, mediocre at best.
Pass The Piote’ – Willie D and company sample the same Steel Pulse song that N2 Deep used earlier the same year for their “Shakedown” record. Willie D invites a few of his friends to join him on this posse cut: Icy Hott, Racer X, Show, and Klon Dike Kat. No one on this one is extremely amazing lyrically, but their combined energy over the dope reggae tinged instrumental makes for an enjoyable record.
Die – Over heavy drums and a piano chord played by Goldfinger (which is bad ass moniker for a pianist), Willie D wishes death on some Houston rappers who’ve gotten too big for their britches; or as Willie D puts it “actin’ like you’re universal, when you’re local”. As usual, Willie D balances clever punch lines, comic relief, some embarrassingly cheesy wordplay, a sloppy delivery, and manages to make it entertaining. I love the live instrumentation on this one.
Clean Up Man -This was the lead single from I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier. Willie D samples Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman”, and borrows her concept; but instead of being the clean up woman who stole Betty Wright man, Willie comes from the perspective of the clean man who will swoop in and steal your woman if the opportunity presents itself. Willie’s guaranteed to keep you laughing with lines like “so if you plan on staying with your groom, don’t come around my bedroom”, or “once I get your girl alone, it’s on like a pot of neck bones”. He also gives some solid advise to those Ray Rice types: “I’m no boy next door myself neither, but if ya gotta beat her, you don’t need her”. As amusing as Willie’s rhymes are, I never cared much for this song; more so because of the cheesy instrumental and his boy Jhiame, who
butchers sings on the hook, and becomes more unbearable to listen to as the song goes on.
U Ain’t No Ganksta – Willie D and company hook up a funky instrumental that Willie uses to call out all studio gangstas, or as he spells it, gankstas. Again, WD keeps the laughs coming with rhymes like “you ain’t no ganksta, punk muthafuckaaaaaaaa, you don’t wanna scuffle” and “cause when it comes to a nigga you can’t get shit, but you look like Tyson when you’re fighting a bitch”. Hi-larious.
Trenchcoats – N – Ganksta Hats – Willie and company slow things down a bit with this mellow semi-melodic backdrop. Just because the instrumental is mellow doesn’t mean our host follows suit, though. WD only has one gear, and that’s extremely loud and angry, as he hilariously warns “when Willie D is on your ass, you truly have somebody on your ass”. At times his rhymes sound a bit more sloppy than normal on this one (i.e. “my road dogs live dangerously, some in the cemetery, some in the penitentiary”, which might not sound so funny when reading it, but give it a listen and you’ll shake your head and chuckle at how ridiculous it sounds), but who listens to a Willie D album for a razor-sharp delivery and precise rhymes, anyway?
Rodney K. – For those who my have forgotten, Rodney King was the brother who after a high-speed chase with the LAPD was pulled from his car and beaten like a runaway slave by four officers. Even though the whole thing was caught on video, the four cops involved were acquitted of all charges (some things never change). After the verdict was announced on April 29, 1992, riots broke out in the streets of L.A. as the people looted and destroyed the community in response to the unjust verdict. At a press conference a few days later, a teary eyed Rodney King made a statement that would become the punch line of many a joke and change many peoples opinion of him, when he said “can we all get long?” Over frantic drums and an uneasy loop, Willie D goes in hard on King, as he deems him a sellout worthy of death for “betraying” the black community with that statement. Willie even kills him at the end of this song, 20 years before he would actually be found dead in his own swimming pool. Time is illmatic.
Campaign 92′ – Interlude
Go Back To School – Over an instrumental with a strong east coast feel (which is kind of nice), Willie D stresses the importance of education and encourages a young drop out to go back to school. Even though his pronunciation of some words is exaggerated (like when he forces “summer” to rhyme with “diplomas” ), he makes some good points, and manages to make the song sound like a real conversation between himself and the kid, opposed to a law enforced PSA. Well done, Willie.
U Still A aggiN – I belief this was the second single released from the album. Sticking with the sellout theme, this time around Willie takes aim at bi-racial and black people who try to disassociate themselves from being African-American and assimilate to European culture. Willie specifically takes aim at Paula Abdul, calling her a “silly hoe” for surrounding herself with white people in her videos, and disses Michael Jackson for getting a nose job to make him look more European. His final rhyme of the song sums up the song’s theme in a nutshell, as he elegantly puts it: “no matter how you aim, to change the way you came, and rearrange your frame…you’re still a nigga”. I like the mid tempo reggae tinged instrumental that features K Rino chanting on the hook. This song is kind of like the cousin to Ice Cube’s “True To The Game”.
Little Hooker – Most probably don’t remember the short-lived career of the Houston female rapper, Choice (who has to be recognized as one of the pioneers of the sexcore rap style that Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown would perfect and reap from a few years later). I’m only familiar with her for the verse she spit on Willie D’s “I Need Some Pussy” from his debut solo album Controversy (I’ll never forget her boast about her vagina being the size of Bolivia and how it made my juvenile junk react). Apparently the two fell out, as Willie D goes after her hard on this diss record, which is the lyrical equivalent to what Ray Rice did to his then fiancé in that Atlantic City elevator, that we all cringed at when watching the tape on TMZ. Over a decent instrumental, Willie delivers vicious blow after blow and finally bodies her with:”cause your granny was a hoe, and your momma was a hoe too, and then came you, and if I dug up the rest of your family roots, I find nothing but some bitches and prostitutes”. This is arguably, one of the most underrated diss songs in hip-hop history.
Yo P My D – Though the pace of the instrumental feels like it’s dragging and the repetitive “yo” vocal sample imbedded in the track begins to grate on your ear, quietly, this battle of the sexes joint (if you’ve never heard this before, I think you can figure out what the “P” and the “D” stand for in this song; if not, just listen to it once and you’ll figure it out) may contain some of Willie D’s funniest and not so politically correct, punch lines of the entire album (i.e. “pussy aint nothing but meat on a bone, niggas fuck it, dykes suck it, and faggots leave it alone”), as he punctuates the end of every verse with “your pussy aint no more important than my dick”. The only thing missing from this song is a female rapper to offer a rebuttal to Willie’s argument.
Backstage – Interlude
What’s Up aggiN – Willie D continues with another hilarious angry rant, dropping lines that will make you shake your head as you laugh at the shear corniness of them (“cause if you try to act bad, God have mercy on your ass”). It was mildly interesting to hear Willie D take an indirect shot at NWA (“I’m not with the riff raff fool, here’s a nigga with a real attitude…don’t ask me what I meant by that, when you see me on the corner, yo hoe you can take it how you wanna”). The instrumental sounds like a bunch of under mixed noise and Willie doesn’t turn in his strongest performance, either.
My Alibi – Willie D and company borrow the same Average White Band loop that Premo would use for Gang Starr’s “Gotta Get Over (Taking Loot)”, released on the Trespass Soundtrack later the same year (and of course Premo would put his Midas touch on his interpretation, which I think comes out slightly tighter than this mix; but I digress). Willie D takes a stab at storytelling, and does an okay job, I guess. The first verse ties in with the song title and concept, but the second verse strays from the theme, before ending abruptly and Willie D (or somebody) acting out what it sounds like when the haters and doubters suck his wiener (yes, it sounds just as ridiculous as it reads). I love this instrumental but the song sounds like an incomplete idea that Willie should have taken time to work the kinks out of before putting it out to the public.
I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier is a very entertaining listen. Not entertaining in the sense of mesmerizing rhymes over dope head nodding beats; but entertaining like listening or watching one of Chris Rock’s comedy specials as you crack up hysterically at his punch lines. And what makes Willie’s lines so hilarious, other than his high energy thick Houston accented delivery and exaggerated pronunciation of words in the name of making them rhyme, is that more often than not, he’s not intentionally trying to be funny (i.e. “Rodney K”, “Go Back To School”, and “U Still A iggaN”). IGOLS may not have top-notch production, but for the most part, Willie and his production team cook up a decent enough batch of backdrops, that will at least keep the listener from tuning out, turning off, and missing out on the comic relief Willie provides.