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Geto Boys

Artists granted legendary status all too often stagnate and slip into self-parody, as if the mounds of accolades and accoutrements of success were the artistic equivalent of Medusa's gaze. But the Geto Boys have managed to stay fresh, despite years of internal beefs and well-publicized personal struggles. Behind the bluesy, old-school shuffle of "1, 2, and 3," Scarface delivers his patented scruffy street reportage, while Willie D name-checks Chopin and van Gogh. On "I Tried" -- a meditation on the helplessness of mortality and the challenges of upward social mobility -- the Boys sound like the grown-ass men they've become. Of course, everyone's favorite lovably maniacal dwarf, Bushwick Bill, is still around to let detractors and competitors know that they're some "washin' dishes and moppin' the flo' ass niggaz." Over the course of the album, the Geto Boys prove that they're one of the few hip-hop pioneers who are still putting out relevant material.