GOODIE MOb. / “Soul Food”

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10 Responses to “GOODIE MOb. / “Soul Food””

Jarvis Says:
August 8th, 2005 at 8:58 am

Mtume, I’m sitting here trying to remember why I bought "Soul Food" in 1995. I think it would say something important about where my head was at then, but try as I might I can only remember talking about the album after I had bought it. Their song about the Red Dawgs (the para-military arm of the Atlanta P.D.) really resonated with my college friends who were from ATL, and I really dug all the soul food references. I also remember writing a paper for a youth culture course I was taking and I quoted the conspiracy theories present in Goodie MoB’s and Ice Cube’s work. To paraphrase Archie and Edith, Them were the days.

I either read or saw on one of those VH1 Behind the Music docs that OutKast was originally meant to be a trio: Big Boi, Andre and Cee-Lo. Apparently Dre and Lo were in the same GED program together and were such similar spirits that Lo was seen as a natural fit to OutKast. I mention that to ask if you think he was ever a true fit to Goodie MoB. In my opinion, no matter which way you slice it, Cee-Lo’s the weird one. It begins with the voice, obviously. That high-pitched nasally country twang he’s got, but it also extends further.

Maybe I could see the other three working construction, driving a bus, bussing tables, but not Cee-Lo. In fact, I was never able to distinguish the other three one from the other. Which one is Bigg Gipp? Which one is T-Mo? They all seemed to suffer charisma deficits. So it doesn’t surprise me that Cee-Lo’s solo albums have been acclaimed — if not necessarily wildly popular — and the others’ efforts have fallen flat.

I remember a bit the comedian J. Anthony Brown had years ago about ensemble artists who "figure it out." Sisqo was in Dru Hill until he "figured it out." Chaka Khan and Rufus? Chaka "figured it out." Ike and Tina? You get the picture. I think it must be hard, real hard, to stay together and keep splitting that money four ways when it seems to you that you’re doing all the heavy lifting. You and Kalamu mentioned the heartless nature of the recording industry, but there’s also something called ego at play. For better or worse it seems to me that that’s what broke ’em up.

Mtume says:                                                       

Re: "I think it must be hard, real hard, to stay together and keep splitting that money four ways when it seems to you that you’re doing all the heavy lifting."

Jarvis, I think there’s some truth to that. But there’s a reason Cee-Lo’s solo work isn’t what it was when he was with Goodie. The thing is — Goodie represented a spectrum. Big Gipp – the cool, smooth cat. Khujo – the ‘crazy’ conspiracy nut. T-Mo – the closest Goodie came to a ‘G’ type of brother. Cee-Lo – the intellectual, the reader. The point is: hearing an egotistical intellectual expound on his thoughts for 60 minutes isn’t the worse thing that can happen, but it certainly ain’t the best either. I always enjoyed hearing those four points of view, even if Cee-Lo’s verses were almost always the most cogent.

Second thing, the industry actively separates the individual with the ‘star potential’ from the rest of the group. Does the ego of the individual have anything to do with it? Of course. But groups start out as groups for a reason. Once they gain some measure of success, it is the industry’s job to figure out who has the potential to be a real star. Once the choice is made, the whispers, private conversations and side offers begin. From there, it’s only a matter of time. The Cee-Lo/Goodie MoB. situation is nothing coincidental or unique.

One last thing, if/when Cee-Lo can’t be monetarily successful on his own anymore, he’ll go back to the group. It happens over and over again. In my opinion, this proves that the split isn’t about artistic or personal necessity, but moreso about money. I’m sure it seems personal at the time, but it never really is. It’s almost always financial.

Re: "Maybe I could see the other three working construction, driving a bus, bussing tables, but not Cee-Lo."

This presupposes that ‘weird ones’ don’t work ordinary jobs. … Guess what I do for a living.


Rudy Says:
August 8th, 2005 at 10:14 am

Mtume, you all have achieved texture, with the jukebox. The rap pieces as a bridge work. I didn’t mind them at all. They must be the guys you talking about MoB. My impression is that their rap works because the lryics, the music are caught up, seasoned, and bounded by soul, I mean, community, I mean, larger than a posse or a clan. There’s more to the world beside talking shit and showing off, on an individual tip.

There are times we each as individuals need to step away from our families for a moment, even point out their shortcomings rather loudly. Well, all that’s part of growing up. Whatever failures, say, I might see in a Robeson or a Wright, I ain’t gonna crack on them without giving them their props, and their significance.

All our artistic production it seems to me if it’s gonna call itself Community, as James Brown says, It’s gotta have Soul. And I would add, it oughta swing. If rappers and poets and critics recognize that all this fronting and conflict ain’t where it is anymore. It’s how we gonna survive with the world passing us by.

There’s got to be a powerful recognition, our papas have left us a powerful legacy, powerful weapons to sustain the struggle for a thousand years. We all need some Soul Food if we gonna do it right. And it’s gotta Swing.

One more thing that’s gotta happen. We got to respect that “There Ain’t Nothing Wrong with Being a Sufferer.” There’s meaning there.

Everything ain’t everything. As Marvin intimated, There’s a Cosmic Groove. And you don’t need no degree to know when somebody ain’t in the groove. Yall aint’ got no problem yall grooving.


AwritePunch Says:
August 8th, 2005 at 11:35 am

This is just a beautiful Crime Scene Investigation. As you’ve stated so well, the important and significant truth of the Goodie Mob story is that it is just another rite of commodification in our culture. That you Laid. It. Out. for us to see so well Is a blessed service to those who do give a damn. It is sustenance for resisting the forces that don’t give a damn. Soul Food Damnit!

AumRa Frezel Says:
August 10th, 2005 at 8:39 am

One of the reasons of music’s importance is the effect that it has on the spirit. You can never tell what the effect music will have on the listener. Control issues are at the root of the industry’s mode of operation. That’s why the internet is one of the best things that could have ever happened to an independent artist. Especially if the artist or performer has the fortitude to express their idealism. While some think that idealism is basically a commodity that manifested by youth I feel idealism is an unforgiving virtue. There will come times when an artist or performer has to make hard choices. And if that artist is going to be true to whatever ideals he deems important then some real sacrifices have to be made.

One of the beautiful things about jazz is that you can have Sun Ra and the Arkestra, The John Coltrane Quartet, in bold letters on a marquee or album cover and nobody gets hurt. People talk about how great Bob Marley is but can you imagine that tight band without Ashton ‘Family Man’ Barrett’s bass holding it down? In the case of Sun Ra some of his cats stayed with the Arkestra (in the same house even) for thirty and forty years and never made “rock star” money. Trane never asked Elvin to leave but Elvin chose to leave with the addition of Rashid Ali. My point is that being a musician doesn’t make a person who they are, being who they are makes an artist the type of artist they are. But, as a listener, do you want to imagine a Sun Ra band without John Gilmore, Ronnie Boykins or Marshall Allen? How about Trane’s classic quartet without Elvin Jones? I doubt it. Check out Wynton Marsalis’ Black Codes From The Underground and Live At Blues Alley. Before Sting came along and ‘appropriated’ Bradford, ‘Tain’ Watts and Kenny Kirkland. Ask Wynton how important the group is. I’m not faulting anyone for the decisions or choices made. And I ‘m definitely not trying to say anything about Wynton’s Marcus Roberts/Wes ‘Warm Daddy’ Anderson et al group. I’m just saying that in a group there is such a thing as ‘group dynamics’ at work. Being a good leader is only one piece of the puzzle. Each member has to be committed to that common goal. Because when the crossroads come – and they most definitely will come – whatever is motivating you to do what you do will be your saving grace. And if money is your main motivator, if fame is the main motivator or if you just simply love music, then that is the thing you are going to fall back on when things get rough. There is a value system at work here. Doing “menial” jobs might be hard to take but selling out is harder. Cecil Taylor was washing dishes in a NYC restaurant when Down Beat came out listing Taylor as number one piano player. You can’t value culture and pimp it at the same time. People who look for realness can sense when an artist is faking.

Nothing last forever but while they were together Goodie MoB and their production crew laid down a foundation which was revolutionary in helping to define the sound of the south in rap music. Sometimes, especially with Black culture trying to survive and thrive in a hostile environment, all you are going to get is a snapshot, a Polaroid. You ain’t gonna always have a Gordon Parks or Romare Bearden to frame that shit into a relevant and panoramic scene. Thanks Mtume.


Castro (Jason) Says:
August 10th, 2005 at 4:39 pm

“I don’t recall/ever graduating at all/sometimes I think I’m just a disappointment to y’all”

The Goodie Mo-B implosion broke my heart. Mtume, you have provided a fitting epitaph for this group- you KNOW how I feel about this.

Soul Food represents Atlanta for me at that time- warm summer, good food, ‘big-legged Gurls’, Elders dispensing knowledge, RBG medallions purchased at West End Marta Station…

‘Kast and Goodie were like brothers, one whom ended up in the NBA, the other whom had opened up a popular local restaurant, only to abandon it and try and join his brother in the league….WHY?

But I don’t want to dwell on World Party…it doesn’t even exist for me anymore- I think I let my Wife tape a class lecture over it or something. Soul Food though…that is up there with Brand Nubian’s ‘All For One’, A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Instinctive Travels…’ and Pharcyde’s ‘A Bizarre Ride..’ as classic albums that didn’t reinvent the genre, but displayed a distinct, unmistakeable mastery.

So much has gone down for these cats since…Khujo almost died in a car crash and lost his leg, Ceelo went and ‘got Grown’…Gipp had a child with Joi….a lot of life lived. I don’t think we’ll see them achieve what they had in the first two albums, although I am interested to hear Ceelo when he reaches his forties to see how his voice and singing matures. Other than that, they checked out with World Party……*sigh*

ekere Says:
August 13th, 2005 at 1:35 pm

Thought provoking commentary for real (the apple don’t fall far…). Hearing Soul Food takes me straight back to ATL and back to the feeling that maybe hip-hop could still have fresh breath.

Cee-Lo is really on some nextness, I appreciate him, but I also see what you mean about the value of the four perspectives.

But hey, as a Joi fanatic I don’t think calling her neo soul fits. I don’t know if the stint with Lucy Pearl or something on Star Kitty made you write that, but Pendulum Vibe and Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome– with that amazing Betty Davis remake– mean that in my book, Joi defies any sort of categorization.

Yeah, I know, you write brilliant commentary about Goodie Mob and I’m talkin bout Joi. :) True.

Mtume says:                                                       

You’re right about Joi. I just called her that as a short-hand. It fell in the middle of a paranthetical reference that fell in the middle of a sentence and…. Whatever.

"If I Get Lucky, I Just Might Get Picked Up." Baaaaaaad. And what about the Labelle cover? More badness. And what about Fishbone as a frickin’ backup band?! Will definitely have to post some Joi one of these days.

herbert Says:
November 7th, 2005 at 10:40 pm

I thought hip hop started cause people were living in fucked up situations and they needed an escape, so they go to a party and they relax and they enjoy thier life. It wasnt til the message dropped that people got involved in talking about social realities.
hiphop can be a tool for many things, but a majority of people who listen to it like to party.

Some people are dealing with hard hands. I think making one album about having a party isnt really a major crime, okay in a perfect world, they would have banded together forever and maintained this aura of artsitic credibility, but you dont know what the hell these people were facing, things in their real lifes that they may not have spoken of, you are not in their mind….maybe they do all sorts of stuff in their real lifes that is beneficial and supportive of the people, just because their album doesnt represent that, its just an album, every artist has some sort of failure in their career, you are not a member of the goodie mob.. maybe yall should stop looking to them to be some sort of heroes to you, and if you feel you need a hero, instead of looking to artists, look to the person who drives the bus, the person who works the menial job, look to yourself mange . We all human man. You think people who do work menial jobs dont go out on the weekend and party? I don’t see why yall so harsh. It would be great if every artist could get paid to be themselves, but hey, things happen. How “real” do you want them to keep it?
were they your heroes cause you saw some strength in them that you didnt have? And i fyou didnt have it, how can you hate them?
if they were just regular guys and their appeal was that were in touch with the people, how would they be above selling out? most people i know how work menial jobs would sell out in a minute. You think people like washing dishes eight hours a day?

Sicks Says:
January 25th, 2006 at 11:58 pm

i wont stoplistening to still stanidng or soul food until i have no choice
it is very emotional to me and i never admitted to myself what was lost
those first two albums could touch many people in unimaginable ways
dont let that spirit die it is “immortalized forever on wax cd’s and cassettes”

electro soundwave Says:
November 23rd, 2006 at 3:34 am

Thank you. Goodie Mob’s first two albums have been favorites of mine since they were released and I place Soul Food as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, up htere with It Takes A Nation.., Criminal Minded, Fear Of A Black Planet, etc. I was severly hurt when I haerd World Party (actually, I couldn’t even stomach listening to the whole thing) and I haven’t been able to really stand any of their solo projects. I really can’t describe what they meant to me, especially Soul Food, except that as Ceelo put it, “it just winds up being food for my soul”

Glenn Says:
October 8th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I was just reading your article and I found it interesting that you started out talking about Jean Carn… are you aware of the tie that Jean Carn has with the Goodie Mob? Unless I missed it you never connected the dots… Are you from East Point as well, or is this purely co-incidence?

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