Goodie Mob, based in Atlanta, Georgia, is widely considered one of the founding hip hop acts of the (commerically viable) Dirty South movement. Members Cee-Lo (Thomas Callaway), Khujo Goodie (Willie Knighton, Jr.), T-Mo Goodie (Robert Barnett), and Big Gipp (Cameron Gipp) make up the group, which has been functioning since 1995.
“GOODIE MOb”, as it’s written on their album covers, means the “GOOD DIE Mostly Over bullshit”. Cee-Lo notes in a song off the Soul Food album that, “[If] you take out one ‘O’ it stands for ‘GOD Is Every Man Of blackness.’ “
Its members were all born in Atlanta, and the group is based there with the rest of the Dungeon Family, a collective which includes OutKast, Witch Doctor and P.A. (Parental Advisory). Goodie was first heard reciting haunting politically charged poetry on several songs from OutKast’s first album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. His reputation as a poet, thinker and social commentator is legendary in the southern hip-hop community.
Cee-Lo was the most visible member of the group prior to his departure in 2000 due in part to his distinct voice, while Big Gipp has made several rounds on other Dungeon Family members’ albums, and T-Mo and Khujo form a duo within the group called The Lumberjacks.
The powerful lyrics Goodie Mob is hailed for are certain to stimulate thoughts, as they are meant to educate as well as entertain. “I want anyone who picks up Still Standing to learn from our wins and our losses,” says Big Gipp. “We started out to be purposeful, but I’m glad this music is entertaining folk too.”
It is safe to say Goodie Mob has achieved both of their goals. In a time with much need for a fresh direction in rap music, Still Standing hits the shelves April 7th to provide a welcome change filled with positivity and laced with phat beats.
Still Standing, Executive produced by LaFace Records Co-presidents Antonio “LA” Reid, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and Organized Noize (OutKast, TLC, En Vogue), provides skilled production on a variety of different types of tracks which are sure to cross boundaries and reach music lovers of all kinds. Additional producers include Mr. DJ, DJ Muggs (of Cypress Hill), and Craig Love. Both Cee-lo and T-Mo have stepped into the production arena this time as well by contributing a track a piece (Ghettology and Greeny Green, respectively).
The first release off Still Standing is “They Don’t Dance No Mo'”. “The title has a dual meaning,” explains Cee-lo, one of raps most respected voices. XXL Magazine claims that “Cee-lo is the E.F. Hutton of hip-hop: When he speaks, everyone shuts the **** up.”
“Part of it is us saying people don’t have a release anymore. They don’t let go. They don’t dance no more. They can’t get lost in the music. Instead, they bring what’s stressing them to the clubs; the fighting and the brawling. It don’t make no damn sense. The other side of that is we don’t need to be dancing no more. Shuckin’ and jivin’ and jumping around in flashy suits,” Cee-lo continues. “Looking like Bojangles. Hip hop ain’t got time for that in 1998. And it’s not just about a new world order. We need to get ourselves in order with ourselves and our God.”
Goodie Mob continues in the precedent they set on the first project with “Guess Who”, a touching tribute to their mothers, in praising black women on “Beautiful Skin”. The mid-tempo track only enhances the meaningful hook. “You’re my beginning, my end/ You’re my sister, lover, and friend/ God is your light from within/ And it shines through your beautiful skin.
The title track “Still Standing” leaves you inspired while “Black Ice” (featuring platinum label mates OutKast), “The Experience”, “Ghettology”, and “Just About Over” (an alternative track laced with guitars and thumping beats), shows the growth and different dimensions the Mob can reach.
Of course they’ve included a southern jam which re-affirms their contribution of placing the south on the map as they did on SoulFood with “The Dirty South”. This time the track is called “Fly Away” and is sure to be a favorite nation wide. “When we on your side of town we don’t ask why/ We abide by the rules that ya’ll live by/ And see your welcome to come, your welcome to stay/ But any disrespect and we will make your azz fly away.”
As a four man group, each member adds an individual element to the spiritual makeup of the Goodie Mob. Each component is as diverse and important as the life elements of Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth.
Khujo, who prefers to be called a messenger rather than a rapper, represents the wind, as his rhyme style and lyrical content blows direct and hard, yet symbolizes change. His name refers to the leader of the Tribal Maroons who lead escaped slaves to freedom. Khujo also means change. If you count the letters K-H-U-J-O on the alphabet, add the numbers up and divide by 5, you get the number 13 which symbolizes change: K(11)+H(8)+U(21)+J(10)+O(15)=65 =65/5=13.
Cee-lo, the youngest member of the group, represents the water providing words and a lyrical style that gives both depth and clarity to all listeners. “I provide depth in my rhymes, but not too much depth to where you can’t swim.”
T-Mo’s wild and explosive style represents fire as the raw emotion and energy in his voice makes you visualize and linger on every word. “The reason I am fire is because I represent reaction. When somebody sees or feels fire they react.”
Big Gipp, the self proclaimed mutant rapper of the group, represents earth. “I represent everything that’s natural, all the natural resources. I surround myself with natural things that are positive and good. I am also a very stationary person, but I like to grow.” Also a family man, (Gipp has a daughter Kepsiia with recording artist Joi) he is conscious of the lyrics that reach the young ears of tomorrow.” “While we have this opportunity to share our experience on the mike, we need to be honest with ours.”
The success of SoulFood earned Goodie Mob the respect and praises of many. The Source’s four-mike review of “Soul Food” began: “A lesson to all upcoming MC’s who believe emulating every other artist represents the path to originality: be yourself.” And Rap Pages felt its “Southern soul” merited cover attention nationwide.
It also left everyone in high anticipation of the follow up to their successful debut. XXL Magazine felt it urgent to place them on the cover, while the Source, Rappages, Rapsheet, VIBE, and Spin all secured major features before having an entire album.
In a time where hip hop and society seem to still be struggling, the Goodie Mob and their powerful messages are Still Standing, unscathed, certain of themselves, who they are and where they want to be.
Khujo states it perfectly, and hopefully the world is listening. “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything. Life is not a game, so why you want to be a player?”