Geto Boys

On their first album together in almost a decade, the three original Geto Boys promise, in typically pugnacious fashion, to "send the whole world a fuck-you note." The question is whether the world they've rejoined gives a fuck itself. It makes sense for Houston's most hard-core rappers to rejoin forces--would hip-hop's current Southern exposure have been possible without them?--but Scarface, Willie D and the demented, diminutive Bushwick Bill have returned to find a world they altered in ways that don't benefit them now.

For one thing, their once-taboo obsessions have become part of the hip-hop landscape, thanks to followers like D12's Bizarre. Such one-dimensional MCs lack the Boys' ability to deliver a heartfelt track like "Leanin' on Me," which features some poignant verses about Bill's hard times, but they've also made the Geto Boys' sordid past (necrophilia, anyone?) seem nearly quaint. And the trio must forever live in the shadow of the paranoid 1991 classic "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me," one of the all-time most frightening tunes. Minus all shock value, then, The Foundation's gritty, workmanlike Southern hip-hop sounds substantial but disappointing.

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Dan Leroy