While in the mist of listening and working on Willie D’s IGOLS write-up, coincidently, I ran into today’s subject at on of my favorite used music spots. Maybe this was no coincidence, but more divine intervention. Maybe it was a part of God’s plan for me to write about two of the Geto Boys solo albums, back to back. I’m fucking with you. Place this one before Public Enemy’s Greatest Misses.
Richard Stephen Shaw, better know to the world at Bushwick Bill, was the Jamaican born Houston transplant who was one of the original members of the Geto Boys. After The Geto Boys’ critically acclaimed and platinum selling album We Can’t Be Stopped, Bushwick Bill would pursue his solo career like his fellow Geto brethren, Scarface and Willie D, releasing his solo debut Little Big Man on Rap-A-Lot/Noo Trybe Records, one week prior to Willie D’s Goin’ Out Lika Soldier.
Bushwick would bring in Rap-A-Lot in-house producers James Price and John Bido (with co-production credits going to more Rap-A-Lot affiliates Crazy C, Roland, Goldfinger and Mike Dean) to handle the production duties for the entirety of Little Big Man. The album didn’t move a ton of units, but in-between Geto Boys projects, Bill would go on to release one more solo album on the Rap-A-Lot label, and 4 more independently, including his 2010 release, My Testimony of Redemption, which showcases the former horrorcore rapper rhyming as a born again Christian. I’ve never heard MTOR, but I’d be interested to hear what a sanctified Bushwick sounds like on the mic.
Intro – This extended intro opens with a male voice making random statements about Bushwick’s ideology, rhymes, and stature, to which Bushwick has a rebuttal for each. No need to listen to this more than once.
Little Big Man – Bushwick opens the album with the title track, bragging about his skills on the mic, how tough he is, and his sexual prowess. Our host won’t leave you mesmerized with his lyrical output, but he does a well enough job not to embarrass himself on this one. The instrumental has a bluesy feel, thanks to the rough guitar licks and organ, This was actually pretty enjoyable.
Stop Lying – Bushwick takes the time to dedicate an entire song to calling out brothers who lie about how much booty they get. Yes, I’m serious. The instrumental has both a blues and country feel to it, and isn’t completely terrible. But it’s going to take a stronger backdrop than this to make Bill’s corny content memorable.
Call Me Crazy – This one opens with a dude cracking short jokes on Bushwick (and most of them are pretty funny), before our host comes on the scene and pumps Mr. Funnyman full of lead. Bushwick proceeds to spit verses about beating and shooting everybody in sight, just to prove how crazy he really is. Not that I would believe him anyways, but the lighthearted singing on the hook and the borderline boring bluesy backdrop (tongue twister much!) don’t do anything to give credibility to our host’s claims.
Chuckwick – This is supposed to be the sequel to “Chuckie” from The Geto Boys’ We Can’t Be Stopped (which Bill makes reference to in the song’s first few bars). Like its predecessor, Bill spits horrorcore rhymes that come off sounding more comical than frightening (“the world’s smallest killer, I can’t wait ’til they bury me, every arm I chop off I give the fingers to charity” and “it’s time for breakfast but I don’t want eggs, just jelly and toast, and bacon and legs”). I’m not a fan of this song or “Chuckie”, but at least the latter’s instrumental tried to create a spooky mood.
Don’t Come To Big – James Smith and John Bido stay true to the country and blues sound scape they’ve created up to this point on Little Big Man, and unleash this one that is fire. Little Bill uses it to let the ladies know that in spite of his small stature, he’s more than capable of breaking them off proper, while he warns the brothers not to sleep on his hand skills. This was cool.
Ever So Clear – This is easily the crown jewel of Little Big Man (and next to his verse on “Mind Playing Tricks On Me”, probably of Bill’s entire catalog). Over a slightly emotional semi-bluesy instrumental, Little Bill discusses his life, from his birth defect, to becoming a bona-fide rap star, to the pain that caused him to attempt suicide and left him missing an eye-ball (“my eye…why’d you shoot me in my eye? I would have shot you in the body”). Now I don’t have any proof, and the liner notes don’t deny or confirm it, but Bill’s rhymes sound like Face may have penned them (which would not be a surprise, as Face has said in the past that he and Willie D wrote all of Bushwick’s rhymes for the Geto Boys albums). Regardless, this is an unsung classic and one of the best autobiographic songs in hip-hop history.
Copper To Cash – Over a forgettable instrumental, Bushwick spews forgettable rhymes about getting money by any means necessary (be it robbing or rhyming). As Charles Barkley would say, this song is turrible. And shame on Bill for desecrating The O’Jays’ classic “For The Love Of Money” by incorporating it in to this hot mess of a song.
Dollars And Sense – James Smith and John Bido steer away from the c&b (my made up acronym for country and blues) theme and build this backdrop around a loop from the Ohio Players’ “Funky Worm” (a record that would become the source material for many artists, and an important piece in the blueprint of the G-funk sound that would dominate hip-hop in the mid nineties), and it’s dope. Bushwick’s theme on this one is simple: whatever you do, if it doesn’t make you money, it’s not worth your time. The first verse sticks to the script, but each verse after strays further and further away from the topic at hand. I love this instrumental, though.
Letter From KKK – This one starts out with Bill reading a letter from the KKK, thanking him and the rest of the black community for their contribution to African-American genocide. Not too far in, Bill loses focus and forgets about the letter as he resorts to spewing out random facts and statements, in an attempt to deter brothers from committing black on black crime. I remember back in the day their was a bogus email circulating with the same idea as this song. First off, why would the KKK sends out a letter like this? That would be like playing hide and seek and letting the person that’s it, know exactly where you’re hiding. Secondly, props for the “conscious” attempt, but this was poorly executed. The Smith/Bido backdrop is cool, but the Curtis Mayfield loop may have worked better with a cleaner mix.
Take Em’ Off – What better way to follow a conscious song than with an embarrassingly misogynistic song disrespecting the black woman you were so concerned about in the previous song? Don’t get me wrong, I can stomach a little misogyny from time to time, but at least make it creative and interesting. Everything about this song is a hot mess.
Skitso – Rap-A-Lot Records CEO J. Prince stops by to help Bushwick with the last song of the evening. The song opens with J. Prince going to visit Bill at a psych ward. The bleak (and kind of boring) instrumental drops and Bill spills more of his horrorcore rhymes, outlining the thoughts and demented deeds that landed him there. Bill’s rhymes on this one are a lot darker than the comedy he shared earlier on “Chuckwick”; specifically his third verse were he talks about raping and killing a woman, then having sex with her corpse before calling 9-1-1 on her behalf. This was some pretty morbid shit that will make any sound minded person feel uncomfortable; which I’m sure is what Bill was going for.
James Smith and John Bido provide a pretty consistent country and blues infused brand of hip-hop throughout Little Big Man. But don’t confuse consistency with quality. Only a handful of the instrumentals on Little Big Man are worthy of your time. Which leads me to the biggest problem with Little Big Man, our host himself. Bushwick is not a good rapper, and with the shelter and protection that Scarface and Willie D provided him within the Geto Boys’ camp now gone, all Bill’s short comings (no pun intended) are exposed. Little Big Man may have fared better as an EP, but that’s even a push.