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Goodie Mob: Come And Get Some 'Soul Food'

Oct 16, 2009 (All Things Considered)

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Rap music may have started in the Bronx, but in recent years, the South has taken over the airwaves. The latest selection in the You Must Hear This series, in which musicians talk about a piece of music they love, is some early Southern rap from the group that coined the term "Dirty South." Rapper Bun B, of the Grammy-nominated group UGK, says that Goodie Mob's debut album inspires his life and music to this day.

"I made a very real connection with that album. At the very least, the music was extremely entertaining, extremely enjoyable. But if you really got into listening to the wordplay — the lyricism — it really was trying to make you understand: "Look. The way they got you locked down in your 'hood is the way they've always had us locked down in society."

You actually took something home after you finished dancing. You actually learned something. And there's not a lot of people that can say they can do that in the course of a dance song. I think Goodie Mob are great examples of that.

Soul food is gut food, you know what I'm saying? It's food that sticks to you. We as Southern musicians and Southern artists, I think, we were all raised on a lot of rhythm and blues, and soul music. And we take a lot of those influences and put it into our music. So even though we may be rapping sometimes about cars, there's a lot of times where we talk about real-life things.

So if you want music that's just not being made to get your money, but music that's being made to really inspire you, then Soul Food is that album."

OutKast might just be the most innovative rap group of all time, but its members' success wasn't achieved in a vacuum. In fact, they were originally the product of a much larger alliance of Atlanta-based artists and producers known as the Dungeon Family. Sitting next to OutKast on this family tree is the Goodie Mob, a soulful rap quartet consisting of Big Gipp, Khujo, T-Mo and Cee-Lo (later of Gnarls Barkley fame). While Goodie Mob never quite found the mainstream fame that OutKast did, its resonance within the Southern hip-hop community is immeasurable.

On its 1995 debut, Soul Food, the then-teenage quartet offered ground-level analysis of economic and racial segregation through unapologetically Southern lenses (and accents). At the same time, the group didn't sacrifice humanity for its message, interspersing political treatises with heartfelt tales of family dinners and childhood reflections. All of this was backed by minimalist and organic beats, provided by production trio Organized Noize (who also produced for TLC and Curtis Mayfield). The album went on to influence a generation of Southern rappers; its fingerprints are apparent on current-day stars such as Young Jeezy and T.I. Soul Food had a huge impact on Goodie Mob's peers, as well — especially Bun B and Pimp C of the equally seminal Port Arthur, Texas, duo UGK.

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