Willie D has always tried to stand on his own outside of his Geto Boys notoriety, but the results range from well regarded to plain laughable. Mr. Dennis is a hip-hop legend with a distinctive vocal tone and some incredibly quotable rap lines, but as a soloist he can lose the plot and devolve into cornball concepts and tired topics. His stilted delivery is charming as one third of a trio, but on his own hearing him try to shout every line into the mic gets tiresome. Despite the fact he’s better off in a group he can’t help but take potshots at his crew on the title track to “I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier.”
In case you missed the veiled references, D goes out of his way to insert a phony interview into the middle of the song where a reporter says “You’re not getting along with (Bushwick) Bill, you and Scarface recently had a shootout, you left the Geto Boys and started your own record label.” Now given the fact this album was still on Rap-A-Lot Records (distributed by Priority) you might think this was D making fun of journalists who don’t do their research. Tell me this though — do Bill or ‘Face make even one cameo anywhere on the 16 songs of this album? Don’t bother to look because I’ll give you the answer — NONE. ZERO. The beef was very real. In fact the only song that’s not Willie D solo is the strange posse track “Pass the Piote.”
To this day I have no idea where Icy Hott, Klondike Kat, Rasir X or Sho came from or where they went after this song. I also don’t know why they spelled peyote that way or tried to turn it into something you’d pass around like a joint. It’s still less painful than a song like the plodding, slow, exasperating “Die” and D’s bitching about how everybody sounds terrible. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones D. There are a couple dozen songs that use the same Parliament sample I’d rather listen to, and the same can be said of the album’s lone single “Clean Up Man” and the loop of Betty Wright’s “Clean Up Woman.” D plays the role of a gigolo who can solve any horny lady’s problem. “Married women — they need it the most!”
“Trenchcoats-N-Ganksta Hats” features the ironic line “do the shit by yourself if you can” when it’s so clear that he can’t. It sounds like it should have been the album’s closer given it has an overly long outro where he gives shoutouts to all his friends, making the entire thing clock in at over six minutes, but it’s right in the God damn middle. Then Willie D tries to get topical for 1992 with “Rodney K,” but for those of you born this century he’s talking about the man who was savagely beaten by four cops whose subsequent acquittal lead to the Los Angeles riots. You might think D would be sympathetic to King, or even be able to say he was a prophet for predicting the response to the cops being found not guilty (Ice Cube and many others saw it coming), but he has a shockingly different take.
Willie D calls him “a sellout,” an “Uncle Tom” and “a gay” before the first verse is even over. Apparently his issue is that King didn’t fight back, because “5th Ward niggaz fight bullets with bullets,” and that nobody cried for him when the cops beat his ass the way they did Rodney’s. It’s a confusing mess though because he can’t decide whether he’s mad at King, the cops, or black folks who “make friends with the enemy.” He’s screaming that people need to aim higher than taking out the cops and aim for judges and Senators, but then he inserts a skit of Rodney King being murdered for letting white people help him financially after the beating. And since it was election season, D has an even more painful skit following it called “Campaign ’92.”
And just in case this is all starting to feel as right wing and reactionary as a modern day FOX News prime time TV show, just know that he performed “Rodney K” at a rally in Houston right next door to the Republican National Convention. Far from sounding like the militant revolutionary of the Geto Boys, D sounds like the very people he would have once rebelled against with songs like “Go Back 2 School.” Getting an education is important and I agree with him on that point, but as KRS-One reminded us on “You Must Learn” the quality of that education in terms of teaching black history and culture might not be up to par. Some kids might learn more outside of their school system than they did within it — and I don’t just mean black history. Libraries are a great resource, and home schooling can in some cases teach you more than you’ll ever learn in a brick and mortar institution. Just telling kids to “Go Back 2 School” solves nothing if their schools are under funded and the teachers in it don’t give a shit.
“I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier” is a weird album, and by weird I mean bad. For every song like “Wat’s Up aggiN” that sounds like classic Geto Boys style Willie D, there’s at least two like “Yo P My D” that are too long or trying too hard to be controversial — or in this song’s case both. He’s talking a whole lot of shit about women for a guy who claimed to be a clean up man.
Let me cut to the chase here. There are a lot of Willie D solo albums that I never wanted to listen to again, and “I’m Goin’ Out Lika Soldier” is right near the top of that list. It has better production than “Loved by Few, Hated by Many” but also has a lot of songs that are incredibly dated 30 years after their release. Instead of making a timeless album, Willie D made an album that was only relevant in the year it dropped, and one full of bad takes and unfocused rage to go along with it. This is a mess best left forgotten.