June 26, 2015

Bushwick Bill - Phantom of the Rapra (1995)


I still think Face's album Mr. Scarface is Back is the best Geto Boys release, but Bushwick should not be overlooked. From this release, Scarface is Back, and Play Witcha Mama from the other Geto Boys start Willie D, it's hard to believe they were all in a cohesive group. The shortest rappper I know of holds his own on the mic on every Geto Boys album, and his solo album is incredible. This is one of the most underrated drank albums. Noone can compete with SUC in drank music, but Bushwick brings some variety to the mix.

There are a few rappers that are completely fucked up mentally. X-Rated, DMX, and half of Memphis rappers are on the list, but few compare to Bushwick. After forcing his girlfriend to shoot him in the eye (as discussed in the review of We Can't Be Stopped), Bushwick released his first solo album, Little Big Man, before starting work on his masterpiece.

James Smith is still the executive producer, but this album's atmosphere is very different from previous Geto Boys releases. Scarface plays with the darker tones on his albums, but Bushwick made it his own on this album. Every verse seems to be an attempt to find meaning in the world, only to give up and puff lye. Homie only god knows.


Bushwick lights up a number of situations the Geto Boys usually touched--depression, poverty, and insanity--while further adding to and sometimes even cleverly subverting his personality. I also love how his steady, yet warped flow is tinted with that Jamaican accent; perfectly fitting Phantom's smoked out G-Funk resonance. Probably the greatest strength of the album is the hooks. While every verse from Bushwick is rapped with skill, lyricism, and an excellent sense of a lazy pace, the hooks do the job of making the album easier to move through, more memorable, and most importantly bringing Bushwick's kaleidoscope personality to new levels. "Watcha gone do?" "Homie only god knows" and "Dr. Wolfgang von Bushwicken the Barbarian Bill" to name just a few stellar lines show just how crazy and lovable the little big man is. I'm also impressed with how Bushwick keeps the album's concept tied in but not overbearing. You might think it's a little silly, but the honesty and introspection feels even sadder to me by the way he kind of laughs it off. And in the intro does anybody else picture Bushwick with his back to his manager, slumped over his piano in the ancient dark music hall of a haunted mansion that is dimly lit by candles smothered by wax drips on old tarnished brass chandeliers?


Phantom of the Rapra