EXCLUSIVE: The hip-hop group talks creating their latest album during a pandemic and reflect on their legendary career.
“Everything that I did, different things I was told, just ended up being food for my soul.” — Cee-Lo (“Soul Food,” 1995).
Twenty-five years ago, when Goodie Mob released their seminal debut album, Soul Food, the world was quite a different place.
Even more so, was Atlanta.
Atlanta became a power player in the urban entertainment industry during the early 1990s with So So Def, and LaFace Records. Urban music helped to make Atlanta an attractive location for Black migration and tourism.
However, the music that truly sparked the beginning of Atlanta’s hip-hop dominance was in response to an oppressive police force, youth oppression, and disenfranchisement, namely Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik by Outkast and Soul Food by Goodie Mob.
These albums introduced Atlanta to true hip-hop fans because the albums were in line with the tenets of hip-hop as the voice of the Black urban experience.
“The South Got Somethin to say.” — Andre 3000 (1995 Source Awards).
“You know, it’s funny, that good Goodie Mob came with this type of message 25 years ago, and it’s finally relevant,” T-Mo Goodie tells theGrio, explaining that the first album was created “organically and innocently.” This time around, he explains that the two-and-a-half decades that have passed have given them the information to know what fans are looking for in these trying times.
The group’s latest album, Survival Kit, was conceived prior to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan was to put down as many songs as possible before summer when the group was planning to tour to celebrate the anniversary of their debut.
Then coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine hit.
With all of the members and the rest of America basically staying at home, there was more time to work on the album. There was also a lot more to write about.
“We wrote from the perspective of being in the eye of the storm right alongside with the people,” Cee-Lo tells theGrio. “So, therefore, expect a continuum because this is the work that we started 25 years prior, you know what I’m saying? I believe that we’ve always been considered ahead of our time. I think this time we’re right on time. And I believe that God gave us not just this ordeal, but this opportunity to be active, and to be proactive.”
For Big Gipp, he explains that age and a change in life circumstances are reflected in this album as well. “I’ll tell you the truth, when we started the album, I would pray to the Most High just to be like, just tell me what I need to say.”
“And though as a youngster, you were living in that life, and you were living so much that you were talking about it every day. And at this part of my life, I just want to know how to speak to people, and what words do I need to use to find that place and people again.”
“4 My Ppl,” is, in this humble writer’s opinion, the best song on this album. It is sublime.
Every single member of the group rides the kind of jazzy, Southern beat you expect from Organized Noize. Khudjo kills the first verse complete with Easter egg-type throwbacks to Soul Food and it just rocks from there.
Cee-Lo absolutely shines on the hook.
As the lyrics go: “Every time I write (it be 4 my ppl)/ and every time I rap (it be 4 my ppl) and every time I sing (it be 4 my ppl)/ and every time I dream (it be 4 my ppl)/ and everything I think about (be 4 my ppl)/ and every time I shine (it be 4 my ppl)/, I do it for the good (it be 4 my ppl), I do it for the hood (it be 4 my ppl).”
The album was produced entirely by Organized Noize. Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown are undoubtedly some of the most influential architects of Atlanta’s hip-hop rise. The threesome is woefully underrated, and not just the producers of some of our favorite songs, but as the mentors of the entire Dungeon Family, which expands to over a dozen members. To name a few: OutKast, Cool Breeze, Sleepy Calhoun, Witchdoctor, Backbone, Big Rube, Killer Mike, and even Rico’s younger cousin, Future.
Wade, wants people to walk away with a renewed appreciation of Goodie Mob — not just as a group, but individually. He notes that each member has his own moment to truly shine throughout the entire project.
And they do.
The album also features Chuck D., on the opening track, and Andre 3000 on “No Cigar,” and Big Boi on “Prey 4 Da Sheep.”
Regarding a new OutKast album, Rico Wade said, “Sleepy (Brown), his thing is like, “Nah, nope, (they) ain’t ever doing it.”
“But it’s never off the table with me, it’s always a … It’s not a possibility, it’s almost a fact that sh*t gonna happen one day.”
As far as releasing an album during the pandemic, Goodie Mob says they most miss the idea of touring. They have also been thinking about Timbaland and Swizz Beatz‘s VERZUZ, which rose as a phenomenon in these past nine months of the pandemic.
Cee-Lo thinks the only VERZUZ could be with Dungeon Family and Wu-Tang Clan.
“She just asked Mo who would go up against the Goodie Mob in VERZUZ,” Gipp tells Cee-Lo who rejoins the zoom after his call drops.
“I mean, I’ve continued to say Wu-Tang,” Cee-Lo said.
“Music means something,” Rico Wade, says. We’re also on a Zoom call the day after a hurricane kicked up some dust in Atlanta. He is riding around trying to charge his phone.
“[Music] means more than just you know, getting fu**ed up and getting high or just party. Music is like a book. Your albums are like books. Timing is everything, and this particular Goodie Mob album is something that earmarks this crazy year.”
Reparations, coronavirus, Donald Trump, Black Lives Matter, all find their way onto the album.
“Being a part of the next chapter of Goodie Mob and Organized Noize legacies in ownership of the master recordings in their artistic creation is an honor. We wouldn’t have had it any other way; the collective’s voice is exactly what is needed today as they have consistently been a voice for the people for the past 25 years,” states ONErpm Head of Urban, Orlando McGhee.
Goodie Mob put forth an incredible piece of art with Survival Kit.
“Mask on, gloves on, we ain’t out the woods yet, the power of the mind is my survival kit,” Kujo chants on the beat of the title track.
“With the danger of this pandemic and the danger of this virus, it’s just got people frustrated and restless,” T-Mo says.
“Staying away from large crowds, wearing a mask in public. Those are actions of being proactive with the situation that we’re in and that’s what I’m all about. That’s what I teach my kids, that’s what I practice. That’s what this album is doing. We don’t wanna get out there and try to tell somebody to do something I ain’t willing to do.
He adds, “But a new norm is what it is. If we want to move forward then we gonna have to make the necessary adjustments in order to stay safe, in order to stay alive.”
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