The Goodie Mob’s 1995 release, Soul Food, is consummate Southern art. Like the South, Soul Food brims over with ambivalence and contradiction; mixing (not in order of importance) hate, positivity, ambition, laziness, pro, novice, truth and/or cliche, masterfully. Cee-lo, the group’s natural leader, relates in a few rhymes and chuckles what might take self-styled intellectuals paragraphs and pages too say, making him the most talented MC since Rakim or KRS-ONE, but far more vocally expressive than either.
Cee-lo alone is reason enough to buy the new Goodie Mob record, Still Standing. The rest of the group know when and how to put their best feet forward with smooth voices and compelling lyrics of Southern life. But despite consistent performances, all but Cee-lo are fairly pedestrian, and their biggest talent lies in their ability to set up their leader, a job they do with obvious pride.
Almost as fresh as Cee-lo’s voice are production team Organized Noise’s tracks, which replace the drawling jeep beats of Soul Food with tight, synthetically soulful jungle hi-hats and beats most good real-time drummers couldn’t play. The mix of Jungle and hip-hop is poised to blow up, and the Goodie Mob are the first big, traditional hip-hop group to mix the genres with uncontrived ease. Thus, Jungle DJ’s should keep a look out for a B-side of the album’s eighth track, and best example of the hybrid, “Ghetto-ology.” Though not as classic as Soul Food, Still Standing‘s ambition and freshness is reason enough to excuse the few mundane moments.