DJ Ready Red (née Collins Adams Leysath)—the pioneering DJ and producer who worked with Houston rap outfit Geto Boys from 1988 to 1991—has died of an apparent heart attack. The news was announced via an Instagram video from Geto Boys’ Willie Dennis (otherwise known as Willie D) and later confirmed by Pitchfork. Calling him “the musical enforcer,” Dennis says that Leysath “gave us our sound.”
He added, “To say that he was a pioneer would be an understatement,” Willie said. “Red was before his time.” Leysath was 53.
Leysath’s innovation came from the ways in which he’d weave his love for comic books, kung-fu movies, and TV themes into his music, an approach that helped the nascent Geto Boys define the sound that helped shape the horrorcore subgenre of hip-hop.
“He was into all that stuff,” Dennis told the Houston Chronicle. “And he compiled all of it into hip-hop. It was beautiful. If you listen now, all these industries cross-promote into hip-hop. But Red had this marriage of hip-hop to movies and television well before the mainstream started accepting hip-hop. It’s commonplace now. Then it was groundbreaking.”
Leysath joined the Geto Boys (then known as the Ghetto Boys) in 1988, soon after the release of early single “Car Freak.” Along with Sire Jukebox, Prince Johnny C, and Little Billy (the hypeman later known as Bushwick Bill), he developed beats for 1988's Making Trouble and 1989's Grip It! On That Other Level, as well as Willie D’s 1989 solo album Controversy. Troubled by finances, Leysath left the group midway through production of 1991's We Can’t Be Stopped.