Page 15

Greatest Southern Artists of all Time



Words Maurice Garland / Photo (l to r) Big Gipp, Cee-Lo, Khujo, and T-Mo


Outkast f/ Cee-Lo and Big Gipp “Git Up, Git Out” Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik 1993 Cee-Lo and Gipp helped Outkast create one of the most motivating songs in hiphop. Goodie Mob “Cell Therapy” Soul Food 1995 The truth in this song made you question everything in the United States. The only thing eerier than the beats’ piano riff is that many of their predictions came true. Goodie Mob f/ Big Boi and Cool Breeze “Dirty South” Soul Food 1995 You can’t blame Goodie Mob for coining this term, which has now become a tired cliche everyone in the country uses to describe the Southeast region. Goodie Mob “Beautiful Skin” Still Standing 1998 This much-needed ode to the black woman wasn’t as lovey-dovey as LL’s “I Need Love,” but still as strong as Pac’s “Dear Mama.” Goodie Mob “They Don’t Dance No Mo’” Still Standing 1998


hen Goodie Mob (Robert “T-Mo” Barnetet, Willie “Khujo” Knighton, Cameron “Big Gipp” Gipp and Thomas “CeeLo” Calloway) crept onto the scene in 1995, hip-hop was in desperate need of something, well...good. Death Row inmates, Bad Boy, and a slew of rappers were blurring the line between Scarface and Al Pacino. Elected officials were switching their campaign agendas from combating police brutality to attacking violence and misogyny in rap lyrics. Public Enemy was out of the scope, X-Clan was extinct, ‘Pac was having trust issues and KRS was pretty much the only One still preaching that we’re all in the same gang headed for self-destruction. And then “Cell Therapy” came out. The eerie one-finger piano plucking beat and conspiracytheory lyrics actually had us thinking for a change. This was the introduction to Goodie Mob’s debut, Soul Food, one of the most important hip-hop albums ever. The cover image of four brothers praying spoke volumes, and the content held true to its title. The ground-breaking effort opened with a prayer (“Free”), continued with meditations (“Thought Process”), autobiographies (“Sesame Street”), and soulstirring questioning (“I Didn’t Ask to Come”). The sonic Mother’s Day gift “Guess Who” had even the hardest thugs kissing their mom when they got home at night, verses like the sermon Cee-Lo dropped at the end of “Fighting” changed lives on the spot, while playful songs like the title track showed that this group of deep thinkers do like to have fun. But the album will always and forever be remembered for two songs: “Goodie Bag” and “Dirty South.” The lyrical exercise “Goodie Bag” was originally a freestyle community radio cipher with fellow newcomers The Roots. “Dirty South” was intended to be the soundtrack for Atlanta’s shady South side, but was embraced by the entire region. The G-Mo-B was tatted up, unshaven with mouths full of gold. They showed the world that you could be conscious without the crocheted coifs, and spiritual without the gaudy Jesus pieces

hanging from iced-out medallions. Most of all, they showed that it was okay to be yourself in and out of the booth. You could still see Khujo or Cee-Lo posted at Greenbriar Mall during Freaknik, Big Gipp chillin’ at the Braves game on the weekend, or T-Mo standing in line at The Beautiful restaurant. They never changed, but the same couldn’t be said about their music. Initially, Goodie supporters were caught offguard with the bow-throwing single “They Don’t Dance (No Mo’),” not knowing what to expect from the upcoming album Still Standing. Did they sell out? Did they crumble to the critics and sale-driven record execs? Are they trying to appease radio? No. Not really. And hell naw! Just like its predecessor, Still Standing opened with Cee-Lo’s voice. But this time, he wasn’t praying. He was kind of angry, letting us know the difference between blacks and niggas. This was followed with “Black Ice,” the definitive Dungeon Family track. Bass-driven beat, offkilter hook (“Sky hiiiigh, sky hiiiigh”), coded lyrics and an appearance from Big and ‘Dre. It was 1998 and the Southeast, particularly Atlanta, was becoming the place to live. Goodie spoke for those who didn’t have a voice on “Fly Away,” reminding you, When in Rome, do as the Romans do...or get your ass beat. Overall, their sophomore effort brought more exposure. Nail and hair salons were blasting the woman-appreciating “Beautiful Skin.” The title track had brothers on lockdown flooding LaFace’s offices with letters. Cee-Lo’s verse on “I Refuse Limitation” was featured as a hip-hop quotable in The Source, and Khujo’s unique style won respect from hip-hop heads. Gipp entered celebrity status when he married soul singer Joi. Even though Still Standing was a slept-on album, it still provided a much-needed safe haven for the civilians caught up in the No Limit Soldiers’ 1998 reign of terror. As 1999 began to wind down, “Chain Swang” had already leaked to radio and people were wondering what Goodie was up to. The pressure from critics, label execs and radio finally penetrated the Mob’s walls. The commercialized

first single “Get Rich to This” got more radio spins than any of Goodie’s prior singles, but blatant attempts at pop success like “Ghetto Enuff” were too much to bear. Released at the end of 1999, the injured racehorse that was World Party was taken out to the woods and shot before the Spring even hit. Within most groups, creative differences and a lackluster album will cause divide amongst its creators. Goode Mob was no exception. After having a dominating presence on the Dungeon Family compilation Even in Darkness, Goodie Mob broke up. Solo success was moderate at best. T-Mo’s T-Mo to the Fullest is still collecting dust, Khujo’s The Man Not the Dog was avoided like the plague, Gipp’s Mutant Mindframe made a little noise (emphasis on the “little”), and Cee-Lo’s two albums Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections and Cee-Lo Green is the Soul Machine blossomed the brain but barely busted a grape at the sales register. Realizing that a fist is stronger than a finger, Goodie tried to get back together. After harsh words and miscommunications, the supposed reunion One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show happened sans Cee-Lo. The album did achieve the conscious/commercial balance that World Party fumbled, however, that one missing monkey did slow the show down a bit. Goodie Mob officially disbanded the following year, but last month reported that the group was back together - all four of them. It’s hard to tell if their reunion can have the same effect as their introduction ten years ago, but then again, today’s rap climate is pretty much the same. Rappers are still emulating Tony Montana, civic leaders are calling for radio and television boycotts of rap music. For the moment, politics and spirituality are in style. Goodie Mob has stood the test of time. They’ve survived breakups and the amputation of Khujo’s right leg after a car accident. They’ve boldly stepped out of Outkast’s looming shadow (a feat no other Dungeon Family artist has accomplished) and earned their position as one of the greatest groups to come out of the South. OZONE APR 2005


Profile for Ozone Magazine Inc

Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005  

Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005

Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005  

Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005

Profile for ozonemag