The Geto Boys are an undervalued and underappreciated crew in the melting pot of what we call hip-hop. First arising in the late-1980s, the collective comprised of Scarface, Willie D and Bushwick Bill were one of the mainstream hip-hop groups from the South to achieve nationwide notoriety and laid the foundations for other Southern acts to prosper in the 1990s.
New York hip-hop was front and centre in the ’80s. With acts such as The Beastie Boys, Run-DMC and LL Cool J ruling the charts, upon the arrival of the Geto Boys, rap finally gained a new respect for the South after its long struggle. The group’s frontman, Scarface (Brad Jordan), went on to become one of the most prominent Southern hip-hop artists in the US and achieved a great deal of commercial success along the way.
However, prior to his pursuit of a solo career, Jordan was spearheading the Houston collective. One of the trio’s highest-charting tracks was ‘Mind Playing Tricks On Me.’ Produced by Scarface, the song was the lead single of the crew’s 1991 album, We Can’t Be Stopped.
For the instrumental of the song, Jordan samples the 1974 single ‘Hung Up on My Baby’ by Isaac Hayes. Released through the Houston-based Rap-A-Lot Records, the track was initially meant to appear on Scarface’s solo album as it was, in fact, inspired by Jordan’s grandmother.
In a 2011 interview with MTV, the Jordan’s grandmother explained, “He [Scarface] came to the room. I think I was just mumbling to myself, my lips were working or something, and he said, ‘Mama, what you talkin’ about?’ I said, ‘Oh, nothing, my mind’s just playing tricks on me!'”
She continued, “I didn’t have no idea he was gonna go out and make a song about it.” The track is a G-funk style track that explores themes surrounding paranoia, schizophrenia and other mental conditions. With lyrics such as “Candlesticks in the dark, visions of bodies being burned / Four walls just staring at a nigga,” and “I often drift while I drive / Havin fatal thoughts of suicide”, the track gets dark in places and is often categorised as Horrorcore.
The song also has a personal meaning as, when he was an adolescent Jordan survived a suicide attempt and spent time in a mental facility. Bushwick Bill also had mental issues prior to joining the collective, and their personal experiences informed the subject matter of their music. The single was initially meant to be released through Geffen Records. However, refused to release it as they weren’t comfortable with its multiple references to murder and necrophilia.
The music video for the track was fascinating and was in regular rotation on Yo! MTV Raps. You can watch the video below.