Willie D, most known for his role in the platinum-selling Houston based rap group The Geto Boys, who spawned classic mega hits including "Mind Playing Tricks On Me," is no stranger to controversy. With his often hard-edged music that often conveys positive social messages, he is now introducing rap fans to the group Huntzville, the newest signing on his Relentless Music label. Just like the Geto Boys, Huntzville is a trio, and has message-laden music laced within their harsh reality raps. However, unlike the trigger happy Geto Boys, Huntzville is comprised of three white rappers, D-Boi (aka Dustin Young), Lil' Fly (aka Stephen Fox) and his brother C-Lean (aka Ryan Fox). Collectively, Huntzville has a "Backpack Fulla Guns," and they are fully ready to unload it as their first single, in preparation for their upcoming debut album Disrupting The Ordinary, slated for release in early 2009.
The outspoken group hails from Huntsville, Texas, home of the notorious prison that inspired a song of the same title by country singer Merle Haggard. These prison city playas live just an hour outside of Houston. After receiving one of their demos from a music business seminar and being impressed with what he heard, Will immediately decided he wanted to sign and mentor the group. Huntzville opened up the reunion show for the Geto Boys this past July.
Instead of reflecting on the "Mind Of A Lunatic," Huntsville's debut single, "Backpack Fulla Guns," takes the listener inside the mind of a student that is going to commit a high school shooting. Pearl Jam had addressed this phenomenon brilliantly, coming from the state of an observer in the band's prolific hit "Jeremy." Conversely, the rappers in Huntzville are addressing the message from the point of view of the shooter.
Huntzville feels that if a kid is at the point where he wants to shoot someone in his school, and if he listens to this song, and he sees that somebody understands, maybe he will change his mind about shooting someone. C-Lean notes, "This is a topic that no one else is musically approaching in hiphop, and we wanted to make a strong point of it." He adds, "Everybody can relate to being bullied or bullying. We wanted to get a dialogue going on this. It is so commonplace today, that on CNN the other day, they only ran a little tickertape on the bottom of the screen, saying there was another school shooting in Jersey. These are not even featured stories any more. No one seems to care."
"The trend is that lot of rappers are not doing anything that is going to be relevant in five years. There is so much trendy stuff and dance stuff," observes C-Lean. "We wanted to do something of substance that you could listen to in twenty years from now that would still be applicable. Unfortunately, kids are still going to be bullied in school 20 years from now, so people will relate to this topic in many ways, from many points of view."
D-Boi acknowledges the controversy surrounding some of the group's songs that will be released. He explains, "The single has a lot of meaning behind it. It's not just a bunch of killing people. It's not just mindless violence. We wanted to put a mirror up through this song, to show society that they're not doing enough about this. These shootings are going on all over America, and they are a worldwide problem. Our job with the song is to remind people we need to take care of it, or it is going to keep happening."
All one has to do is go to google news and type in "bullying" and "school," and literally thousands of hits come up.
Lil Fly notes, "We're not excusing it, glorifying it, or saying this uncontrollable reaction is what you should do. We're trying to say this exists, and there are people who honestly feel like this, and who feel they have a reason and right to do this. We're just bringing you inside what drives a person to be like this."
Lil' Fly says that it is particularly outrageous that some bullies grow up to be police officers that find people to bully. "What just happened in Houston to Donald Driver's father is deplorable," he notes. "Donald is in the Green Bay Packers, and is very involved in his community, and doing a lot of positive stuff. The police recently arrested his father, Marvin, at his home, and they reportedly took him to a gas station, where they beat him unconscious. He was unresponsive at the jail, so he was taken to the hospital, where he was listed as being in critical condition. He is getting better now. But this is what happens when bullies remain unchecked," asserts Lil' Fly.
Geto Boy Willie D, CEO of the group's label has the group's back, and is ready to defend the group in light of any ensuing controversy. In fact, Will feels so strongly, that he has penned a statement that can be found on the group's website, which in part, states, "Not so long ago, the repercussions of bullying meant you got sent to the principal's office or home. Today, bullies are being sent to the cemetery, often accompanied by other students and teachers. Where are the parents? I'll tell you where they are. Many of them are standing at the door, waiting for their child to walk through the door, so they can smack them across the head, just because they feel like it. Many of these parents stand in complete denial, causing their son or daughter to become bullies, themselves. Most children learn abusive behavior from the violence and abuse they experience at home. In an effort to seek what they errantly perceive as a feeling of power, or being "superior," such children bully, tease, put down, harass, or otherwise torment one or more victims."
Will points out the trial currently being held against Lori Drew, a 49 year-old Missouri woman that used a fake MySpace persona to bully a thirteen year old girl into committing suicide, the first criminal trial ever held involving cyber-bullying. Will, who was born as Willie Dennis, also stated on the Huntzville's website, "Many of the parents are bullies, themselves, so they see nothing wrong with it. Some maladjusted parents even co-opt with their child to abuse, torment or put down other children. Many parents vicariously pass on this behavior."
The group urges those who are dealing with issues of bullying to come to their website, and read Will's complete statement, check out Huntzville's videos and music, and post their own experiences with bullying.