Goodie Mob is a legendary quartet made up of Big Gipp, Khujo, T-Mo, and CeeLo Green. Formed in 1991, the group rose to prominence in the Atlanta Dungeon Family alongside Outkast but wouldn’t reach stardom until releasing their classic 1995 debut, Soul Food. Over the years, the groups stayed relevant, dropping four other albums but would slowly split apart as the various members pursued solo careers and other ventures. This weekend, the group reassembled, dropping their 6th album, Survival Kit. With features from Andre 3000, Big Boi, and Chuck D, will the group be able to make one of their best records yet?
Even with almost 30 years of wear and tear, Goodie Mob’s chemistry is free-flowing and full of life. From the intro, “Are You Ready”, it’s clear the group is expanding on the socially conscious themes from their previous LP, Age Against The Machine, as they team up with Public Enemy leader Chuck D for an intense posse cut. Building on this, a handful of moments show the southern hip hop pioneers fighting for their god-given rights. From the enraged “Frontline” to the empowering “4 My Ppl”, seeing the Mob so indulged in solving current issues is remarkably inspiring. The interludes “Dc Young Fly Crowe’s Nest Break”, “Big Rube’s Road Break”, and “Big Rube’s Amazing Break” add some enjoyable spoken word to ease the high tensions flaring through each track. The ultimate highlight is “No Cigar”, which shows T-Mo, Khujo, and Big Gipp team up with the one and only Andre 3000, as he steals the show with a marvelous verse filled with some of the wittiest wordplay of the entire year. Proceeding this is “Prey 4 Da Sheep”, which reunites the Mob with fellow Dungeon Family brother Big Boi for a harsh schooling about the toxicity of having a mob mentality. For those thinking Survival Kit’s just a store brand version of Public Enemy’s What You Gonna Do When The Grid Goes Down?, the high stakes created in the beginning are relived with some vibrant food for the soul. What separates these two sides of the record is the appearance of CeeLo Green who’s heaven-sent vocals can singlehandedly carry a song by itself. With memorable hooks and verses on cuts like “Off-Road” and “Calm B 4 Da Storm”, the rest of Goodie Mob’s solid performance only adds icing to the cake. My biggest complaint with the entire LP would be CeeLo’s inconsistent appearances, as despite being in the collective since its creation, he barely appears on half the tracks. The wholesomeness of “Amazing Gray” is a feeling like no other as the group comes together, locking arms and looking back at everything they’ve been through while also preparing for what’s to come. Overall, Goodie Mob shows they have withstood the test of time as they can hold together a 54-minute experience this late into their careers.
Behind the boards, Organized Noise shows they are still more than competent when it comes to putting together an entire project. Complementing their vocal counterparts masterfully, songs like “Are You Ready” and “Prey 4 Da Sheep” thrive with their raw rock-oriented feel. This feeling of chaos is echoed throughout as the bouncing synths on “Frontline”, the eeriness of “Try Me”, and the horn-heavy “4 My Ppl”, all create a burning feeling for vengeance and justice. While some may love the nostalgia these moments bring, it flys a little to close the soundtrack of Stankonia for it to be remotely memorable. On the subject of emulating old records, this problem plagues nearly the entire project as songs like “Curry Goat” and “Calm B 4 Da Storm” sound straight out of the 90s. While using outdated instrumentals doesn’t take you out of the record, it minimizes the group’s stylistic and topical growth. If more beats had the glamour of “Back2Back” or the depth of the self-titled “Survival Kit”, this could have possibly been Goodie Mob’s best work in over three decades.
In conclusion, Survival Kit is great fan service for Goodie Mob’s day one supporters, but its inability to adjust to today’s sonic standards puts it far from being truly immersive. While Organized Noise did nothing wrong in what’s given, the instrumentals play it way too safe for this to be anything more than a solid body of work. Still, Goodie Mob’s ability to address relevant world issues integrates a lot of character and replay-ability to the experience. Going forward, Goodie Mob has paid their dues to the hip hop world, but I hope to see at least one more full-length LP from the group before they call it quits.
- Mature subject matter
- Great chemistry
- Amazing features
- Outdated production
- Some filler tracks
- Not enough CeeLo Green
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator, founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop