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BUSHWICK BILL, July 10, 1995

Bushwick Bill, the only remaining original member of the Geto Boys, is back for 1995 with a new name, new album, and a new record company that should keep him in the public eye and make him an even bigger force in the rap industry for years to come.

We caught up with Bushwick at radio station 106 Jamz (WFJM 106.3 FM) in Chicago, where he was promoting the release of his new album, Phantom of the Rapra. Later that night he was headed to George's Music Room to sign autographs, hand out T-shirts, and even drop some quick freestyles.

We did the interview as we walked through the River City office building along the south branch of the Chicago River, stopping occasionally to let Bushwick talk to a fan or sign an autograph. At one point, a fan walked up to say what's up and then asked if Bushwick's album was going to be better than fellow Geto Boy Scarface's, to which he responded, "Money, I ain't in no competition, but I can hold my own."

And he did just that throughout the interview, dropping wisdom on subjects ranging from opera to the government with a confidence and depth that only a veteran with eight years of experience in the industry could possess. Bushwick has paid his dues, done his homework, and tells it like it is when it comes to hip-hop.

What can you tell us about the new album?

"Did you recognize the girl on the cover? She's from the Quad Cities. She's from Davenport. I was creating that whole Victorian look for Phantom of the Rapra, and she just fit the part. I took the idea from Phantom of the Opera--my kids gave me the idea. I was watching it on Ducktales. They were doing the whole Phantom of the Opera thing and using Beethoven's 5th Symphony, which is a complete contrast because Beethoven's 5th Symphony and Phantom of the Opera have nothing to do with each other. But it was pretty cool."

So how long have you been listening to operas?

"I've been listening to opera since '87. I got into it when I started watchin' the Godfather movies on videotape and I started reading the credits for the music that was being played. There's Italian opera, there's French opera--I mean opera is a variety, like rap, you know what I'm sayin'? So, the similarity and the acquaintance of the two I thought would be interesting."

So when did you first start rappin'?

"1989, when I did "Size Ain't Sh--," "Talkin' Loud Sayin' Nothin'," "Mind of a Lunatic"--that was my first time rappin'. That whole "Do It Like a G.O." thing."

You grew up in New York, but moved to Houston in 1987. What kind of music do you think you'd be making if you still lived in New York?

"I probably wouldn't be part of the hip-hop scene, 'cause I was down with the Guardian Angels and the Zulu Nation. I was down with everybody from one 'hood to the next because I was into breakdancin'. If you research your old videotapes and watch the big Swatch watch breakdance contest, you'll see me on it. That was when the Swatch watch was first introduced to the United States."

What plans do you have for your new record company, Dollarz & Sense?

"The Sherman Redd album--we're working on that right now, but we're gonna put him on a compilation first. I got a few groups from Chicago I'm checkin' out, a few from New York, and some from Texas, and we're gonna put Ćem all together like how Biv from Biv Entertainment did the East Coast Family. Instead of trying to do something different, I researched and figured out what works: introduce people to everybody on one album instead of puttin' out many albums and ending up with a financial mishap. The title of the compilation album is For the Children of Poverty There is No Cure. Maybe in my rap I'll be able to find one."

What about a Geto Boys album?

"When we're all financially reinstated and it's financially secure, then we can all be Geto Boys as long as we can live as Geto Men."

Whatever happened with Willie D?

"He left because of financial reasons. He's still suing the record company as of today. What's going to become of that only God knows. He knows what he signed on the contract, I know what I signed on the contract, and every man is only going to defend what he feels is his right. And everyone is entitled to that as a human being. He's got his own record label, Wise Up Records, and he put out this kid named Sho and he's affiliated with this club called The Grind in Houston and the Boneshakers. He's like the mastermind behind all that."

What's your take on Bob Dole's attempts to censor rap music?

"Well, Bob Dole is trying to use the Geto Boys, 2 Live Crew, Cannibal Corpse, and the movie Natural Born Killers to get elected into the White House by saying that it's all senseless, mindless violence--senseless violence and mindless sex was the exact interpretation. So, this is the same man who has Senator Packwood as one of the chief executives of his campaign, who was filed for sexual harassment and molestation. He's trying to ban me for what I say, but his people are living out physical actions. This man [Packwood] actually did this. I'm talking about things that I've read, seen, or heard. This man actually committed sexual harassment, and he works for Bob Dole, who's coming against my music. And Senator Bob Dole was the same person who about eight months ago had an opportunity to ban semi-automatic weapons to be in pawn shops and be available to average citizens. He passed a bill to keep semi-automatic weapons on the street, but says my music is dangerous. Now, I give one of you a Bushwick Bill tape and give the other a semi-automatic weapon, which one do you think kills? My music is entertainment with information. A semi-automatic weapon in the hands of a fool or anybody intelligent can slip and kill. My tape can't. If it slips it'll break you have to buy another one. So him making semi-automatic weapons available to teenagers and saying music shouldn't be heard is not only immoral, but unconstitutional because it's freedom of speech. But then again, f--- the Constitution because the Constitution declared black people three-fifths human, which was equal to an ox or a cow, which was a field animal. So, basically we were exempt from the Bill Rights so f--- the government and f--- anybody that thinks I can't say what I want to say 'cause I don't give a f--- about how they feel, 'cause I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for what I'm not."

-- The W and Mason Storm, The 411


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