In an era when the narrative of mainstream Hip Hop had largely been scribed by the East and West Coasts, the South had a voice — and Dungeon Family brethren OutKast and the Goodie Mob gave that voice the amplification and credibility it needed.
Next year, the Goodie Mob quartet (CeeLo Green, Big Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo) celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Organized Noize-produced classic album Soul Food. More importantly, through ups and downs, they’re celebrating together.
Following the Dungeon Family Reunion Tour this past April and their first release in six years — the Organized Noize-produced single “No Rain No Rainbow” — they tell HipHopDX that new music is in the cards, but they aren’t rushing the process.
As they explain, it all started with the tour.
“It was something that we’d been wanting to do for a very, very long time,” Gipp says. As he notes, the experience was especially fun being the first time they have all been live at once — allowing them to perform any song in their catalog.
“I think it was a kind of rebirth … the new star for as far as music is concerned. As far as all of us putting our heads together and moving forward,” he said. It was just dope. It was a dope experience for the audience.”
Khujo interjects, adding the motivation stirred by crowd reaction.
“It was crazy to how the crowd would react to new material from Goodie Mob,” he says. “That’s what they’d been waiting for, something new from us.”
As the topic segues into new material, they are quick to mitigate anticipation by making clear they’re not even at a beginning stage. Khujo adds that they do collectively have a lot of stashed music though.
“There’s a vast amount of material that we could resource together and really put together a solid body of work … in addition to anything new we decided to do,” he says.
While incredibly humble, they’re not oblivious to their lasting influence. Looking at the entirety of the Dungeon Family, they point to their sense of originality and fearlessness as major items that have been passed down to the new generation.
“I think we’ve done a hell of a job, a hell of a job with teaching the kids to be yourself,” Gipp says. “You don’t have to be anybody but yourself.”
He is quick to point out the keen understanding younger artists — specifically those from Atlanta — appear to have as it pertains to imagery and perception.
T-Mo adds, “Maybe we taught them the fundamentals but they taught themselves the function. Look at all of the technological advancements that have come about in their time. You know what I’m saying? So they’re understanding is immediate.”
As the foursome chat amongst themselves, the conversation sways naturally to growth — something synonymous with the group’s discography.
“You can’t not grow as an artist,” CeeLo states. “We couldn’t make another Soul Food or another Still Standing … we can’t duplicate those records. It’s about growth.”
He reiterates, “What I would tell these young artists out here is don’t get caught up in what everybody else is doing. Always strive for growth, in the music business that gives you longevity.”
It’s impossible to talk about influence without getting Khujo’s game on the pervasive origin of “Trap” as a term used in Hip Hop.
Though Kanye recently told a crowd at Howard University the term was invented by a Fed, Khujo says it was a term thrown around his hood — even before he became the first rapper to use the term on wax.
“That word was just being tossed around,” he notes. “It was just the era and the time that I came up. I was out there doing what I was doing … we called it that.”
He likens the concept of the word to trapping animals for food in the wilderness. “You got to eat, and you can’t depend on the government. You know what I’m saying? You got to trap your own food out there.”
Though he remains remarkably low-key about the topic, CeeLo is far less coy.
“He was the first one who said it,” he says. “As far as I know, man, that’s the first time I heard the word.“
As the conversation drew to a close, the four reflected on their ultimate legacy.
“We gotta be considered the best, man,” CeeLo states while acknowledging Wu-Tang Clan’s impact on the culture. “[Dungeon Family] is the most commercially and critically acclaimed crew ever. That is with all due respects all the others.”
“I don’t know how you could refute that. 100 years from now we’ll be remembered as one of the groups that helped build this Southern Hip Hop culture,” he says, creating an allusion between early his crew and iconic Bronx pioneers The Cold Crush Brothers.
“Southern Hip Hop was here before we even came out. I like to say we definitely brought that template,” T-Mo add — much to Gipp’s agreement.
“Almost Southern rapper that came out after us took their style from one of us,” he notes, describing the vast amount of personalities present in the collective.
There is no set date or clear indication of when — or if — the group will drop their follow-up to 2013’s Age Against The Machine. But fans can rest assured when they do get new music, it will definitely be created organically and free of desperation.
Goodie Mob is currently hitting stages across the country — you can follow their Instagram page for updates.