Goodie Mob - Biography
With their mix of southern production and thoughtful lyrics, Goodie Mob's "hardcore with a conscience," unlike so much other "positive hip-hop," offered something for head but not at the expense of the feet.
Inspired by the regional success of local acts like Shy D, Success-N-Effect, Damage, Raheem the Dream and the national success of Kriss Kross; Willie Knighton Jr and his friends formed a hip hop act called Party Crashers a junior high. After hearing Public Enemy, an increasingly politicized Knighton formed a hardcore group, Sixth Sense, with fellow Benjamin E. Mays High School students, Cameron Gipp and Ray Murray. One of their songs, "Pray for Peace," about the Gulf War, got some local notice. Knighton also formed a duo, The Lumberjacks, with another high school association, Robert Barnett.
In 1991, Knighton (as Khujo), Gipp (as Big Gipp) and Barnett (T-Mo) were joined by Thomas "Cee-Lo" Callaway, a younger kid whose parents had both been ministers and who'd previously made beats with Andre and Big Boi in a group called 2 Shades Deep. The four rappers originally envisioned Goodie Mob as a loose configuration in which to showcase their individual talents.
Along with fellow performers P.A., Joi, Witchdoctor, Backbone, Cool Breeze, Lil' Will, Duke Roald Zilla, Sifu, Society of Soul, OutKast, and the production team Organized Noise (which included former Sixth Sense member, Ray Murray), they made up a larger collective, The Dungeon Family (the name referring to Organized Noize member Rico Wade's basement studio). The first artist out of the family to release a record was the underrated P.A., in 1993. It 1994, OutKast's debut, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was a break-out success. Two of the tracks, "Call of De Wild" and one of the album's stand-outs, "Git Up, Git Out" featured scene-stealing contributions from Goodie Mob.
Goodie Mob's debut single, "Cell Therapy," peaked at #39. Their full-length, Soul Food (1995 LaFace) followed and went Gold. Although they were warmly received in the west and Midwes, in the east they often met hostility and condescension. Having the last laugh, grills and cornrows would soon become more common even in New York and the south, at least musically, rose again, as was made obvious in their defiant follow-up single, "Dirty South" (a term coined by Cool Breeze).
Their sophomore release, Still Standing (1998 LaFace) arrived three years later — virtually an eternity in rap. The two biggest figures from the east and west coasts, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac, were gone. New Orleans labels No Limit and Cash Money had shifted the rap audience's focus to the Crescent. That city's dominance was evident in new, KLC and Mannie Fresh-inspired Goodie Mob songs like "Ghetto-ology." At the same time, Goodie Mob members began collaborating outside The Dungeon Family, appearing on Eightball's Lost and, more surprisingly, in a Voltron-inspired Sprite ad with Mack 10, Common, Fat Joe and Afrika Bambaataa.
This new sense of levity continued in 1999, when the band appeared on a No Limit release, C-Murder's Bossalinie. Their own release, World Party (1999 Arista) took a decidedly commercial turn, largely at Big Gipp's instigation. Few fans could've imagined the group who’d earlier professed to “kind of like being poor” would write a song called "Get Rich to This." They also appeared as "The Not So Goodie Mob" in the comic book movie, Mystery Men. The album sold poorly and the group were subsequently dropped from their label. For some time after, the members would only work without outside artists; Gipp appeared on releases by Solé and Dj Hurricane, T-Mo appeared with Macie Gray and released a solo single, "T-Mo 2 the Fullest," and Cee-Lo got the most exposure, providing vocals on a track of Santana's massively popular Supernatural.
In 2001, the members of Goodie Mob reconvened, along with the rest of the Dungeon Family, to release Even in Darkness (2001 Arista). However, no new Goodie Mob music materialized and the members continued collaborating with other artists, with Gipp appearing on releases by Mr. Cheeks, Bobby Digital and Three 6 Mafia; T-Mo collaborated with Faith Evans; and Cee-Lo released his solo debut, “Closet Freak” and announced that Goodie Mob were no more. Though the members mostly held their tongues about Cee-Lo's departure, tellingly, only Big Gipp appeared on the ex-Goodie's solo album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (2002 Arista)
Khujo was the second Goodie Mob member to release a solo album, The Man Not the Dog (2002 Street Level), but his release received only a fraction of the attention of Cee-Lo's. That year, Khujo was also invovled in a car crash and had the bottom of his right leg amputated as a result. In 2003, Big Gipp released his solo debut, the psychedelically crunk monster, Mutant Mindframe (2003 Koch) but it was also afforded a smaller reception.
In 2004, the remaining members of Goodie Mob reconvened without Cee-Lo to release One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (2004 Koch). Musically, it was something of a return to their early years although it suffered from the lack of Organized Noise on most of the tracks and unpleasant attempts at thuggery. Afterward, Big Gipp left the group and fell in with Nelly's St. Lunatics crew. Cee-Lo Green...Is the Soul Machine (2004 Arista). Now reduced to a duo, T-Mo and Khujo revived The Lumberjacks and released Livin' Life as Lumberjacks (2005 Koch). Though arguably the best Goodie Mob-associated released since Still Standing, it was largely overlooked.
A new Goodie Mob song featuring all four members, "Hold On," appeared on The Purple Ribbon All-Stars' Got Purp? Vol. 2. The All-Stars in question are Big Boi, Konkrete, Bubba Sparxxx, Sleepy Brown, Rock D, Scar, Big Gee and Vonnegutt. It was later revealed to have been an early song, recorded before the release of Soul Food.
In 2006, Cee-Lo collaborated with Kelis and Nelly Furtado but it was his partnership with Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley that brought the most attention when their song "Crazy" saturated the airwaves. After Cee-Lo achieved stardom, his former bandmates grew to accept that the member they'd viewed as their little brother, had for many been the focus of the group. After a Gnarls Barkley show in October, the four members of Goodie Mob took the stage and announced they were back together. However, a couple of years would pass before they performed together.
Gipp, released Kinfolk (2007 Universal Midtown) with St. Louisian, Ali. The ATL meets STL show featured contributions from members of both The St. Lunatics and The Dungeon Family, including Nelly, Murphy Lee, Kyjuan, Cee-Lo and Big Rube. Meanwhile, Khujo Goodie released Mercury (2007 Koch), which featured Bigg Gipp as well Sean Paul of YoungBloodZ, one of the few bands who early in their career evinced the influence of and name checked Goodie Mob. The group, meanwhile, reiterated that had re-united that November, releasing an official statement on V-103. But rather than release any Goodie Mob material, the members continued working on other projects. Another Gnarls Barkley release, The Odd Couple, followed in 2008. The Lumberjacks teamed with follow Atlantan Pastor Troy toy release A.T.L. 2 [A-Town Legends 2] (2008 Siccness). A solo Khujo released G-Mob Godfather (2008 Fei Fie Delissh) which was pretty in-line with contemporary trends. However, his collaboration with Pennsylvania's Jneiro Jarel, Willie Isz, out-experimented Gnarls Barkley and drew praise from the likes of left-fielders including TV on the Radio and Saul Williams.
Finally, in August, the long-awaited Goodie Mob reunion took place when the members took the stage at The Tabernacle during a Nelly concert. In September 2009, they performed their first own concert at the Masquerade in Atlanta. They've continued playing together since. They have a projected new Lp, Age Against The Machine, to be released sometime in 2013.