It's been almost ten years since Goodie Mob's Cee Lo, Big Gipp, Khujo, and T-Mo last released an album together. And a lot has changed.
Their funky, forward-thinking approach helped put Southern hip-hop on the map in the '90s and early 2000s. And in their absence, the South has continued to dominate, but not quite in the same way Cee Lo and crew originally envisioned.
Hip-hop has been wrangled and hog-tied by commercial entities, and the message has been diluted with a bottle of molly water. Over the last few years in particular, people turned to party music as an escape from a harsh post-recession reality, but Goodie Mob seems to feel the rap fans have strayed too far and lost themselves.
So now, with their new release, Age Against the Machine, the Goodie Mob dudes are back to remind us all that hip-hop can carry a message without sacrificing the funk.
Be Different, Be Yourself
Homogeneity reigns supreme on the modern music scene. Everyone scrambles to sound just like the new hits and they all end up sounding just like each other. It might not be for everyone, and it will probably be difficult, but being an original will make you stronger. As Cee-Lo says, "I'd rather die than not be distinguished."
Think Critically, and Challenge Authority
Now that we're being honest about who we are, it's time to be honest about the state of hip-hop. "Music with no substance and you might as well be dead" is how Goodie Mob puts it on new track "State of the Art (Radio Killa)." In short, we just can't rely on rap industry professionals to promote quality and high-mindedness, because they are out for money, not progress. "They care less about your cause, they want control," Goodie Mob explains. "There's very little money in your mind, we want your soul."
Respect Your Elders, Know Where You Came From
Commercial hip-hop just wants to forget the past, and that hurts the music of the future. But Goodie Mob takes time to reflect on the forefathers who paved the way with Age Against the Machine's "Father Time," a song that Big Gipp told NPR was a reminder to the rap community to "always remember your elders and remember where you got it from and never feel like the thing that you're able to accomplish you'd be able to accomplish them if people didn't come before you."
Get Up, Get Out, and Get Something
People in America seem to think everything should be easy. We've come to believe that money makes everything easier and entitles us to whatever we want, but anything that is worth having actually takes hard work and determination to achieve. As Goodie Mob sings on "Valleujah": "When you're in the valley, the mountaintops should soar very high/So I get on my hands and knees and start to climb."
Influence Our Youth Responsibly; Embrace the Wisdom with Age
The album is called Age Against the Machine, partly as a nod to the influence of Rage Against the Machine as an alternative rap/rock crew with a message, and partly as a call to action in defense of "what," Goodie Mob's explained, "the music industry has become." As veterans of the game, Cee Lo, Big Gipp, Khujo, and T-Mo know wisdom accomplishes more than violence ever could, and they want to share these lessons with young people all over the world. But y'know, they still want to keep y'all dancing, because "a little bit of sugar helps the medicine go down."
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SHOW ME HOW
Goodie Mob's Age Against the Machine Tour. With Drop City Yacht Club. Presented by Poplife. Sunday, September 8. Grand Central, 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets cost $20 to $25 plus fees via ticketfly.com. Ages 18 and up. Call 305-377-2277 or visit grandcentralmiami.com.