‘Soul Food’ Is Non-Perishable: Goodie Mob Launches NFT Collection To Celebrate 26 Years of Southern Influence

Goodie Mob

Goodie Mob — Khujo, CeeLo, Big Gipp and T-Mo — commemorates the 26th anniversary of their debut album, Soul Food, with their first-ever NFT collection. 

When OutKast won best new artists at the 1995 Source Awards, that in itself was unexpected. In a strange paradox, they were booed, and now they are forever immortalized in hip-hop. And yet, Andre 3000’s prophecy (“The South got something to say”) was a regional win for many reasons. His words subsequently changed rap going forward. The events of that night lived on through hip-hop for years to come but the course of action that followed is what set the foundation for Atlanta’s historic run in music, pivoting into an era of unprecedented support for the Dirty South. 

In the midst of a major turning point in Black culture – The Million Man March, OJ Simpson’s “Not Guilty” verdict – the world (and hip-hop) was reinventing itself. Musically, a lot of this transition is best credited to Goodie Mob’s reverence for culture and the Black experience. During the mid90s, a quartet of wordsmiths from Atlanta pioneered the soundtrack to Southern lifestyle, demanding respect from an industry that was heavily influenced by a perpetuating, seemingly never-ending, East Coast-West Coast rivalry. If it wasn’t for Soul Food, a memoir about four young men desperately trying to find their way through hell (America), the idiosyncratic style and freeform lyricism celebrated in rap today would cease to exist. Goodie Mob’s debut project catalyzed a conscious effort to ascend from the shackles of materialism and branded goods. This clear cut effort to detach from mediocrity wasn’t fashionable, and in fact, it was taxing. “We were fighting for our spirits and minds at the time,” shares T-Mo. Two decades later, the controlled chaos ensues and unfortunately, good people are still dying mostly over bullshit. 

Beyond the group’s musical contributions, Goodie Mob’s legacy lives on through impact. They rose from “the Dungeon” – the basement studio of production trio Organized Noize (Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown) – and survived “the trap” – a social construct used to enslave impoverished communities. Soul Food is more than a culinary delicacy of Black tradition. It’s a manual on survival, embedded with street sermons that extol the importance of family, ethics and faith.  

To celebrate Soul Food turning 26, Curio – the premiere entertainment platform for NFTs – has partnered with Goodie Mob to release their first-ever Dirty South Soul Food Truck collection. This NFT project features 2,500 different combinations of soul food dishes served by Goodie chefs. Through a blind draw, participants will have the chance to win exclusive Goodie Mob perks and memorabilia. Although this interest in blockchain technology is a new learning experience for the four rappers, they are excited to implement that same Goodie grind that made Soul Food (and their brand) iconic. And what better way to celebrate history than by making more of it. 

A CeeLo-less Goodie Mob reconnected with Dirty Glove Bastard to discuss the album’s legacy, launching their NFT collection and the future. 

Goodie Mob - Dirty South Soul Food Truck

In the midst of creating Soul Food, the world (and hip-hop) was going through a transition. The Million Man March, OJ Simpson’s “Not Guilty” verdict and Andre’s speech at the Source Awards sparked a permanent shift in culture. 26 years later, good people are still dying mostly over bullshit. What does it mean to create a body of work that has withstood the test of time?

Big Gipp: It’s beautiful because it’s really a reflection of how we were raised. The biggest thing about Soul Food, we was tryna bring Southern culture to the forefront. It was like with OutKast, they were the ones that showed y’all how we do our thing. What we did was come in and show you some of the things that were taught to us, our culture, how our grandmama raised us. That’s why we had stuff like the “Serenity Prayer” on the album. We had “Dirty South” on the album where we actually gave the Dirty South a real name at that time. We coined that through us and our brothers (OutKast), and with Organized Noize just coming in and being able to give us a different sound. I think that Soul Food, the actual album, sounds just like the culture we were taught as kids. That’s why you saw four brothers in a rock quarry on the front of the rap pages ‘cause that’s where we come from. We always were the ones to bring culture to the forefront but at the same time show you all the things (and the leaders) that come from the South. You gotta understand, we from the city of kings so of course we not gonna sound like what’s coming out of the North or what’s coming out of the West. We wanted people to understand that we were a different breed and have something different to say for hip-hop. 

T-Mo: It was perfect timing because we were going through so much, spiritually and mentally. We were fighting for our spirits and minds at the time. We had lost some very close friends at that particular time which helped us pave the way for a Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit (Goodie Mob) album. I can honestly say that we were going into the direction that we chose but we had an idea that what we were doing had a chance at standing against the test of time. Now, we wouldn’t have known this would happen until we got here, but we had that idea because what we were saying was more than how fly our clothes were, what type of liquor we were drinking, how many girls we were running through, how much dope we were smoking, it was none of that. We touched on a lil’ bit of everything so I just feel like we were a refreshing look for the South. We knew the hip-hop industry was run by the North and West Coast, it was all about Biggie and Tupac at that time. If you go back and do your history, the South didn’t really have a voice. We just wanted to make sure that we came out banging, man. It was love. 

With the controlled chaos that’s still prevalent in society today, do you guys think it’s possible to recreate the magic of Soul Food all over again?

Khujo: We attempted to do it – well, we didn’t “try” to – with this last project that we put out, which was Survival Kit. A lot of people are comparing Survival Kit with Soul Food since that was the last album that we dropped and Soul Food was the first album that we did. So I say, 25 years later, Survival Kit might be as close as we can get to the Soul Food album without trying to do it. You can’t redo a new Soul Food album. You gotta do all the songs over, same verses. You can’t redo a masterpiece. All you can do is do your best with where you are right now. Since we were dealing with what was going on at the beginning of the year, we used that to fuel the lyrics and theme of what we did with the last album. All you can do is live up to your expectations and try your best to please the fans at the same time.

 

I know it’s virtually impossible to recreate a masterpiece, for many reasons, but that didn’t stop you guys from releasing an extended version of your debut album, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Soul Food with unheard outtakes and new instrumental tracks. 

Khujo: With “Free,” there actually was a whole verse on there this time, on the re-release of Soul Food. That was from our old home team, Reese (Maurice “Big Reese” Sinclair) with Parental Advisory (P.A.). When you get a chance, check that out. It’s a whole song now, it ain’t just CeeLo singing – don’t CeeLo got another verse on there, too?

Big Gipp: Yeah.

Khujo: It’s a beautiful thing, man. We were on the coattails of the 25 year anniversary and we dropped something new for our fans. 

This year, you guys are celebrating the anniversary of its release with your first-ever NFT collection. What prompted Goodie Mob to pivot into the blockchain technology space? 

Big Gipp: It’s where the world is going. We’ve always represented the new wave. We’ve always accepted the new. If you look around right now, you can see that the world is moving into a blockchain society. You see that the world is moving into a cashless society. Everything that we talked about in “Cell Therapy,” we are living in the hour of it being created. I feel like before we know it, we’re going to wake up one morning and our actual paper dollar that we have in our billfolds is going to turn into Monopoly money. This is the beginning of a new world. We just got something this morning that said NFTs have gone into billions of dollars and this is just the third quarter. This is the first year of them getting involved with this kind of stuff and it’s worth billions. That’s just letting you know that people have already seen the collapse of the dollar and they’re looking for new ways to hide their money, different ways to make money through the crypto world. In the real world, money don’t really mean anything anyway because it’s supposed to be backed by gold. It’s no gold in The Capitol, they just print money. Realistically, we really do have Monopoly money. The goal now is to take the money that you have and turn it into blockchain. The only thing that scares me about all this king, forreal, is what happens if the power goes off? If the power goes off, you just got a billion dollars in the computer world but out here in the real world, you broke. It’s something else. The thing that will never lose value is land: always have something tangible that you can sell. One thing you know that will always sell is precious metals and land. You gotta be sure to balance your books now. It used to be just one thing, but now we gotta do it both ways to secure ourselves, especially if you have a family.

Khujo: With NFTs, it’s something tangible now. It’s something where you can also include your fanbase. When the money’s no good, you gotta have something that’s worth something. With the digital world and what’s going on with NFTs, our fans will be able to own something tangible. We’re considering giving away some of our memorabilia, some of the things we’ve been doing shows in, things we’ve done photoshoots with or even an automobile, you never know. It’s a good thing that everybody is moving towards this digital age where you own most of your shit. It used to be when record labels hit you with a whole 360 (deal) and own a piece of everything but fortunately, they haven’t caught wind of this (yet). Probably because they’re too busy with streaming, so they don’t have time to look this way right now. What better way to not only educate our fans, but also get educated, too, so we can build wealth for our families.

Can you put into words what it’s like to recreate the nostalgia of the Goodie Mob experience for fans two decades later?

Khujo: It is like starting all over again but on a whole other level of experience and recognition. For us, recreating nostalgia means new ideas, experimenting with new technologies and gaining new fans.

 

The nuance of Goodie Mob’s style is what gives Soul Food its power. When tracks like “Cell Therapy” are credited as the perfect loop for Travis Scott’s drug induced paranoia (“5% Tint”), longevity and replay value comes to mind. Are you guys confident that this NFT collection will mimic the success of your debut album, in terms of shelf life and its impact on hip-hop culture?

T-Mo: Yeah, but I mean you really can’t compare the two. We’re confident that we’re putting forth 100% effort. We confident that we 100% will do what needs to be done to make this thing do what it’s supposed to do. Just like with the Soul Food record, don’t get it twisted, we didn’t just drop Soul Food and it blew up out the water. Nah, Goodie Mob grinded. Goodie Mob got on a tour with The Fugees and The Roots and took a very small amount of money just so that we could make sure we were in the right arena, around the right clientele to promote the Goodie Mob product. It was a good run for us. It taught us that what we wanted out of the industry wasn’t going to come easy. It was going to take hard work and dedication. It was going to be a journey for us. It was gonna cost for us to be together, stay strong together and fight through all the adversity that was thrown at us. It wasn’t fashionable to speak on the types of things that Goodie Mob was representing at that time or in this time. It still ain’t fashionable because ain’t nobody else doing it. The good thing about it, Goodie Mob got a lane to be in and we maintaining, bruh. To God be the glory, we still here.

 

Let’s expand on this a bit. How do you guys plan on applying that same Goodie Mob grind to recreate the nostalgia of the Soul Food experience for fans two decades later? 

T-Mo: Making sure we got the right team in place and doing Goodie Mob. 

Big Gipp: (screams “Goodie” in the background) 

T-Mo: As long as we do us, the NFT gon’ fall in place. Long as we understand that what’s going to make the NFT have any value is for us to maintain who we are and keep doing what we been doing to be relevant today, and that’s get on that stage and rock the mic, get in that studio and drop hot verses, and continue to do other things in the community. Gipp got his business going, Khujo got his t-shirt businesses, I got my businesses that I’m dropping, too. We got a lot going on right now. You gotta maintain diversity, you gotta have a diverse portfolio. You can’t put all ya eggs in one basket, man. That’s what’s going to make the NFT fye, we gon’ be fye in all other areas of what we’re working on and it’s gon build value with the NFT. 

Ben Arnon: And I’m happy to add to that a little bit. I’m one of the co-founders of Curio and we’re…

Big Gipp: (exclaims “Oh” in the background) 

Ben Arnon: …really thrilled to partner with Goodie Mob on the NFTs. I actually lived in Atlanta from 1994-98 and I was there when Goodie Mob was first coming out. I worked those concerts T-Mo was talking about with The Roots and The Fugees. I was actually involved with promotion and doing production on concerts, anything I could get my hands on. And as you know, Goodie Mob is iconic, they’re legendary, but not just in hip-hop, they’re legendary in music overall, but also in respect to innovation. Since day one, Goodie Mob has always been ahead of the curve. To me, it makes sense that they would lean into NFTs at such an early stage. When I reached out – I got connected to the guys through Rico Wade, at Organized Noize – there was no hesitation. They leaned right into it almost immediately, and as T-Mo was saying, the grind was always there, the innovation was there. To tell the truth with this collection, we’re thrilled at the collaboration. It’s a collection of Goodie Mob’s Dirty South Soul Food Truck with Goodie chefs and robot chefs. That came straight from Khujo, Gipp, T-Mo and CeeLo. Our team was able to execute on a vision that they have because they’re visionaries. We’re thrilled. It’s 2,500 packs that are available through what’s called a blind draw, so people will be able to purchase an NFT. They don’t know exactly what they’re going to get but there will be Goodie chefs and also tin chefs, plates of soul food, some have drinks, some don’t. Artistically, it’s amazing and it all comes from these guys. 

Candidly, crypto art is the future. While the primary focus of the NFT marketplace revolves around digital assets and technology, fans play a huge role in determining how successful projects will be. Beyond practical fandom, how does Curio plan to create a demand for a previously released project in a new age of consumerism? 

Ben Arnon: We have a great community of NFT enthusiasts that we combine with music enthusiasts, Goodie Mob enthusiasts, and we’re out there doing a lot of organic social media community work. We’re also doing other types of work like this (zoom interview). By the way, I should mention, this is the beginning of building out the Goodie Mob NFT community, so this is just the start. We will build from here with other collections that add value on top of what we’re doing. That’s the playbook. The guys couldn’t be better partners. They’re locked in and we’re locked in. 

As Ben Arnon – tech entrepreneur, activist, and co-founder of ColorFarm Media – is this NFT project considered an extension of your desire to promote inclusion and diversity in media?

Ben Arnon: Yes, absolutely. Curio is committed to inclusion, diversity and representation across media and within the NFT space. We view NFTs as a powerful platform for the future of multi-platform storytelling. Part of Curio’s mission is to ensure that the NFT landscape is inclusive of all who have important things to say.

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