September 26, 2009

Goodie Mob - World Party (December 21, 1999)


Once upon a time, there was a rap crew out of Atlanta, Georgia, that was known for two things: their affiliation with a duo named Outkast, and their socially conscious lyrics that made one think about the world we are living in. That rap crew was called the Goodie Mob, and it consisted of four members, Khujo, T-Mo, Big Gipp, and Cee-Lo, their de facto leader.

Their first two albums, Soul Food and Still Standing, earned them record industry plaques to hang on their label office walls, and they garnered a small but loyal fan base who would hang on to their every word. And the group did not disappoint: those first two albums, combined with their sporadic guest appearances on Outkast albums and other outside projects, all proudly carried the Goodie legacy.

So when it came time for album number three, an obvious query was made: what if, instead of writing more socially conscious songs, the four men try to appeal to the mainstream with songs deliberately recorded for the radio and the clubs? While it is unknown who exactly decided that was the direction to go (my chips are on the record label), the Goodie Mob's World Party was created to appeal to an audience that, at this point, didn't even know they existed. To do this, outside producers were sought out to provide more mainstream musical backing for the crew, although the usual players (Organized Noize, Mr. DJ, the Goodie themselves) were able to fight for scraps.

Clearly the group wasn't too happy about the new direction, or at least one member wasn't: Cee-Lo, long considered to be the breakout star, performs on the project to the best of his ability, but abruptly left the group to pursue a solo career, and did so during the recording process, which may help explain why World Party only consists of fourteen tracks, only twelve of which are actual songs, making this their shortest album yet.

World Party was released in 1999, one year after Still Standing, to mediocre reviews, poor sales, and, curiously, mild radio spins, so that aspect of the project did actually work as they had intended. However, down to three members, the Goodie Mob continued to push through, electing to record a fourth disc without one of their key members, and Cee-Lo moved on to a solo career that, thus far, seems to have been capped off by his work with Gnarls Barkley.

A good postscript to that tale is that Cee-Lo and the Goodie Mob have since reunited this year, and are planning at least one reunion concert and, hopefully, another album.

But this post is about the crappy World Party. (Fuck, I gave the ending away!)

1. INVITATION TO THE WORLD PARTY
La La, the former radio deejay and MTV veejay who is now best known as Carmello Anthony's baby's mother and one of the players on VH-1's Charm School (which just makes me sad), provides a bilingual intro that guaran-fucking-tees that World Party will not meet your high level of expectations at all.

2. WORLD PARTY
The hook borrows liberally from Lionel Richie's "All Night Long", which I fucking love, I shit you not, but that fact alone should inform you two that "World Party" explores different terrain than the previous two Goodie Mob projects. The Organized Noize production is repetitive and appears to be aiming for a club atmosphere, but the lyrics are all vintage Goodie. Save for the hook, of course.

3. CHAIN SWANG
The beat, which is credited to Coptic, Derrick Trotman, and D-Dot (one of Bad Boy's Hitmen and the the guy who also portrayed The Madd Rapper for that label's 1990s projects), provides a dark environment for the brothers Goodie to establish their habitat, and it sounds really goddamn good, if a bit repetitive. However, due to that repetitive nature, one is left with the feeling, for the first time, that the beat was not specifically crafted for the group: they merely purchased the instrumental for their own sordid purposes. As such, this song is good, but nowhere near great.

4. GET RICH TO THIS / PARKING LOT (BREAK) (FEAT BACKBONE & BIG BOI)
Before today's listening experience to prep for the post, the last time I heard this track was while I was perusing a crappy gift shop on the Las Vegas Strip. (No, not the one that claims to be the world's largest.) True fact: the cashier was blasting this from his iPod speakers, and I remember thinking, "Of all the Goodie Mob songs, this is the one you like?" However stupid this shit is (and it is really ignorant, almost offensively so), this still ends up being catchy as hell, so although the Goodie themselves may not be the biggest fans of it, the song is a mild success. Also, is there a better theme song to have stuck in your head while walking through the hotels on the Strip? Special guest star Big Boi (from Outkast) is accustomed to this kind of subject matter, so he sounds just fine, but Cee-Lo sounds befuddled and his verse comes off as entirely unnatural. Not much of a call for social change on here, you see, but it's still kind of entertaining.

5. THE DIP
I couldn't get into this one at all. The vocals all seem to blend in with the beat, which usually isn't a good thing for what is ostensibly a rap song.

6. ALL A'S (FEAT BACKBONE)
Mr. DJ's upbeat instrumental brings back the high energy of "Get Rich To This", but this song is much worse. Backbone's first verse, especially, is awful, Cee-Lo's is almost comically violent, and Khujo throws in some good old-fashioned homophobia for no good reason. Cee-Lo also seems to sound embarrassed to be performing on the hook.

7. WHAT IT AIN'T (GHETTO ENUFF) (FEAT TLC)
Even though both acts called LaFace Records their label home, I always thought this this collaboration was not organic at all (unlike the earlier work TLC did with Outkast). Just who exactly were the brothers Goodie trying to impress with this duet of sorts? It also doesn't help much that this comes off as more of a TLC song featuring the Goodie Mob than the other way around. The only rapper that sounds decent over this faux-futuristic beat is Left Eye (R.I.P.).

8. I.C.U. (FEAT SLEEPY BROWN)
The Organized Noize beat isn't bad, and the Goodie sound a hell of a lot more comfortable on here than they did on the last song. However, nothing here sticks to your bones like a "Cell Therapy" or a "Dirty South".

9. REBUILDING
The instrumental is credited to both D-Dot and his apprentice, a young Kanye West, but I have it on good authority that 'Ye handled the beat all by himself and The Madd Rapper added his name to help the sale, not unlike what Dr. Dre and Timbaland do. This is actually really fucking good: this is the closest World Party has come to sounding like uncompromising Dungeon Family music. And they had to turn to a guy who President Barack Obama would later call a jackass to get to that sound. Weird.

10. JUST DO IT / POOCHIE (BREAK)
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me.

11. STREET CORNER (FEAT BACKBONE & JOI)
Meh.

12. CUTTY BUDDY (FEAT SLEEPY BROWN)
Of all the topics I never wanted to hear the Goodie rhyme about, the concept of a friend with benefits (or a fuck-buddy) was close to the top of the list, especially since Mike Jones later mastered this subject matter in the new millennium. (Ah, sarcasm.) The crew are entitled to have a little fun with their music, and they can certainly have their sexual healing, but I don't ever need to hear them talk about it, especially when Cee-Lo sounds as if he had to down eighteen shots of Patron in order to spit his verse out. This is just weird.

13. FIE FIE DELISH
Easy Mo Bee (three days in a row!) provides the beat: that guy sure gets around, doesn't he? It's always interesting when the Goodie Mob journeys out of their comfort zone (such as when they work with DJ Muggs), but they all seem to be overwhelmed by the instrumental, especially Cee-Lo, who, surprisingly, turns in one of his worst performances to date. It's entirely possible that he had already checked out of the group mentally at this point, but still.

14. GO BACK (BREAK)
This is just a rap album outro, and a relatively forgettable one at that.

FINAL THOUGHTS: While not as bad as most critics claimed it to be a decade ago, the Goodie Mob's World Party still sucks camel dicks. The balloons aren't properly inflated and they're all bunched up in one corner, the drinks are all watered down, the food selection is lacking, the male-to-female ratio isn't favorable at all, and T-Mo, Khujo, Big Gipp, and Cee-Lo all sound as if they're trying too hard. There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to look past society's ills once in a while so that one could try and have a decent time, but the paradigm shift between Still Standing and World Party is so jarring that most of the crew's fans probably found themselves falling off of a fucking cliff. People look to the Goodie Mob to not hear songs about getting money and promiscuous sex, a fact that the group chose to brazenly ignore. On the plus side, a lot of the instrumentals were interesting, at least, but this World Party should have been cancelled due to inclement weather.

BUY OR BURN? Burn this if you absolutely must. Loyal Goodie Mob enthusiasts will find at least one song to like on here, but liking one song off of a CD with fourteen tracks isn't economically feasible right now.

BEST TRACKS: "Rebuilding"; "Chain Swang"; "Get Rich To This"

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Other Goodie Mob releases are being discussed here.

2 comments:

  1. 10. JUST DO IT / POOCHIE (BREAK)
    Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me.

    I don't normally do this but :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Couldn't agree more with the final word...I copped this album already knowing that it was a album full of club/radio cuts (thanks to this blog) and i found it for cheap (buying cd's instead of downloading is something i started doing again also thanks to this blog).

    But i got a question, all the songs are censored...did i fuck around and cop a clean version or did it already come like that?

    ReplyDelete