We Can't Be Stopped: Best Houston Album Ever Turns 20 Years Old

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Today is the 20th anniversary of the release of the Geto Boys' We Can't Be Stopped. It is the most important Houston album of all time. Everyone understands this reflexively, even if they don't understand why they understand that.

It has likely been written about more than any other piece of Houston music ever. Its release had a seemingly endless amount of effects, not the least of which include being the first album to seriously nudge a young J. Prince towards moguldom and establishing the South, which prior to that had mostly been considered a rap wasteland, as a veritable nuclear force. As such, it's kind of hard to put together something honoring it that isn't just a repackaging of things that most people know.

So we picked and poked around a bit, sending text messages and tweets and phone calls trying to unearth a few anecdotes that nobody's really ever heard yet. Found three. You know what it is.

3. The Impossible Chemistry

It's fairly common knowledge that the Geto Boys weren't great, great friends. They didn't come together organically like, say, A Tribe Called Quest or even Public Enemy; they were arranged and puppeted by J. Prince. They didn't have that natural ease that great groups have, which, counterintuitive as it sounds, is a big part of the reason that they were great. It was like when Kobe and Shaq were winning all of those championships. During their time together, they never explicitly said they hated one another, and maybe they didn't, but they clearly didn't like each other, and that made them more fiery and more intimidating. Same thing here.

The Geto Boys have often been praised for the bizarre chemistry, a turbulent relationship that helped melt together three distinct styles and three distinct attitudes. The pieces fit together perfectly. Everything was amazing. They were always in sync, it seemed. But, and here's the interesting part, they rarely recorded anything while the others were in the studio. They'd come in, record their parts, and then leave.

The only time they were all in the studio together was when Prince would call them to be, and even then they'd leave as soon as they'd done whatever it was that they needed to do. They didn't have the opportunity to experience the "Oh shit, this guy was just amazing in the booth, I really need to crush this shit" effect that happens when great artists collaborate; they just existed that way. And that makes WCBS all the more impressive.


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glenn
glenn

Opinions over music...calling one album the "best" all-time...does not wash. You cannot equate the different music genres popular with people all over the world.You can call this the best rap album. You can call it the best effort by this group. But you cannot compare quality from one genre to another.A very large segment of the population has no idea who these artists might be.

Thurogood
Thurogood

Nice insider info Shea.  Good read.  Sonzala dropping knowledge as usual

Guest
Guest

Just stumbled upon this and although "The Geto Boys" is the greatest southern hip-hop album ever, this one is more polished and probably third, below "The Diary". Geto Boys are the greatest hip-hop group ever alongside Public Enemy and N.W.A. Happy bithday WCBS, I was thinking of listening to it at first but then I decided to go with "Resurrection". Tomorrow you're given your dues, WCBS!

behind the trigger
behind the trigger

Geto Boys are the greatest hip-hop group ever alongside Public Enemy and N.W.A.? Really? slow your roll playa' (and they're not hip-hop, they're rap)

Guest
Guest

I don't even think this garbage is worth replying to. "they're not hip-hop, they're rap". Basically "they're not hip-hop, they're hip-hop" or if you wanna exchange it "they're not rap, they're rap". Makes any sense? Not to me.

Francine Anderson
Francine Anderson

Ah, Bushwick...what a refreshing blast from the past. I'm a middle-aged mom and fondly miss those days. Geto Boys kept it real--who else ever had such a legit album cover?

Chuckie's 'bout to kill again...

Gravespinning Hopkins
Gravespinning Hopkins

You are fucking clueless if you think this is the best Houston record of all time.  Maybe best Houston rap/hip-hop record...but that's not saying much.

behind the trigger
behind the trigger

if it's anything that has even been in the local/Houston/Texas music bin at Cactus, it's not worthy of wiping your ass with.

Calling We Can't Be Stopped the "best ever" to come out of Houston may be hyperbolic and one man's opinion, but if you're headed down the road I've alluded to above, just shut your cake hole

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