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