Goodie Mob: Live last night

goodie mobReunited Southern hip-hop pioneers Goodie Mob added new twists to old songs on Saturday night. (By Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

Live Last Night

By Sarah Godfrey

With Gucci Mane, Lil Boosie, Lil Wayne and T.I. all sidelined due to legal troubles, it's kind of hard to put together a Southern rap show these days. Perhaps it's out of necessity that concert promoters are reaching back to the '90s, but it's still nice to see a group like Goodie Mob come together for a reunion tour -- especially since without the Atlanta quartet, none of the aforementioned rappers would have careers, let alone the luxury of throwing them away.

Anyone who raps with a drawl owes Goodie Mob a debt: When they first asked what we knew about the Dirty South back on their 1995 Organized Noize-produced debut, "Soul Food," the answer was pretty much nothing. But along with OutKast and other pioneering rappers from below the Mason-Dixon, they fought for hip-hop from their region to be recognized and taken seriously.

(Not just nostalgia, after the jump.)

Cee-Lo, Khujo, Big Gipp and T-Mo hit the stage at Northeast nightclub the Scene on Saturday night to the theme from "Rocky," and immediately jumped into "Goodie Bag" and "Get Rich to This." While the trend for '90s hip-hop shows is for groups to provide a flawless re-creation of a single seminal album, Goodie Mob reworked its most familiar songs, including "Soul Food," and skipped around amid the tracks in its catalogue -- "Black Ice," the OutKast collaboration from 1998's "Still Standing," as well as "Sesame Street," one of the lesser-heralded pieces on "Soul Food."

When the group first came on the scene, its lyrics about struggle and disillusionment spoke to those who remained marginalized during the boom times of the '90s; now that everyone seems to be crammed into the margins together, the fringe rantings have taken on a strange universality. Who'd have thought, 15 years ago, that the world-weary paranoia of "Cell Therapy" would speak to the mainstream?

Scarface, advertised as a special guest, was a no-show, the crowd was a little light and the set barely lasted an hour, but it didn't matter much -- half of the appeal of any older school show is just seeing how the group is faring and finding out if Internet rumors about them are true. Goodie Mob's squabbles are well documented: a rift occurred when Cee-Lo left after 1999's "World Party" to pursue solo projects, and eventually became the group's break-out star after partnering with producer Danger Mouse to create Gnarls Barkley. The remaining trio voiced their displeasure with the 2004 album "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show."

But on Saturday, as Cee-Lo sang Gnarls Barkley's hit "Crazy" (a nearly unrecognizable version accented with Spanish guitar and "Planet Rock" synth crashes), Gipp, Khujo and T-Mo sang along in the background, and, at one point, Cee-Lo promised that they were all working on a new album. The timing couldn't be better considering there's a dearth of socially conscious hip-hop right now -- and a whole lot of empty studios down south.

By David Malitz |  November 16, 2009; 9:43 AM ET Live Last Night
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